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College of Engineering

The S-Band Array for Bistatic Electromagnetic Ranging (SABER)

Faculty in the Electrical, Computer, Software, and Systems Engineering Department at Embry-Riddle are developing a new radar that may alter the paradigm of locating aircraft. Unlike standard radars that generate high-power radio pulses and listen for the return echoes indicating aircraft, the SABER system has no transmitter of its own.  Instead, the researchers use weak echoes of signals from existing satellites high above the Earth to locate their quarry.

The SABER-TDA during field tests with student operators (from left to right), Manu Sharma, Chris Lau, Gene Gamble, and Chris Wright.

Passive radars exploiting environmental signals are not uncommon and systems using television and radio stations have been known for more than a decade; however, systems using satellites are unique.  Satellite signals are much weaker than ground-based signals, and are often considered too weak to be useful.  The key, says Barott, is in the signal processing, which is able to identify the very weak echoes - and thus the aircraft - among the sea of radio noise and interfering signals.

The researchers envision many applications for passive radars using satellite-based signals.  To start with, a network of inexpensive stations could supplement existing systems for tracking low-altitude aircraft, and provide coverage in mountainous regions where little radar coverage currently exists.  “It’s a similar idea to why you might get satellite television,” says Barott. “Remote locations and rough terrain might block ground-based signals, but are no problem for satellites sending their signals down from orbit.”  Other applications include rapid deployment radars and approach radars for remote airfields. The researchers also note potential applications utilizing the covert and stealth-detecting aspects of this type of radar.

Researchers

Brian Butka Dr. Brian Butka

Associate Professor of Electrical and Computer Engineering

Dr. Butka has extensive industry experience in the design and test of mixed-signal integrated circuits. He works closely with the FAA on advanced verification tools and techniques for safety-critical airborne hardware and software. He enjoys working hands-on with students on autonomous robotics projects for international competitions and teaching classes in mechatronics and avionics. In 2013, Dr. Butka was a Fulbright Scholar lecturing and researching autonomous flight in Innsbruck, Austria.

William Barott Dr. William Barott

Associate Professor of Electrical Engineering

Dr. Barott teaches electromagnetics, radio frequency circuits, and the ECSSE capstone design. An active member of the Daytona section of the IEEE, Dr. Barott is also involved with the Daytona Small Radio Telescope Project.