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Airborne Radar Will Map the Ground in 3D

Predator drone

3-D radar will initially be carried on Predator spy drones.

Credit: Jewish World Review

Aircraft radar will be capable of mapping landscapes and buildings in three dimensions (3D), making it easier to spot partly hidden objects on the ground, using a software upgrade to existing radar systems. A U.S. Air Force project, the software is designed to augment synthetic aperture radar. Aircraft would fly in a curved or circular path and provide a series of images of the same object on the ground from several slightly different viewpoints, and then the software would produce 3-D images from the returning radar signals.

"If enough fly-bys are collected, with lots of arcs, full tomographic imaging can be carried out, akin to medical imaging," says Cranfield University's Keith Morrison. "You can create an image slice-by-slice in height, and run it as a movie just like a medical image through a brain scan."

The 3D radar could be used to locate a crashed aircraft hidden beneath a forest canopy, to map the insides of buildings, or measure the thickness of ice sheets or oil slicks. Predator drones will carry the 3-D radar, and trials are expected to be completed by 2013.

From New Scientist
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