MetaSensing airborne experiment on ESA home page


First image taken using radar instruments on two aircraft. The blue–green areas are agricultural fields and the brighter features are mostly trees or houses.

A novel airborne experiment over the flat agricultural landscape of the Netherlands recently simulated, for the first time, images that could be taken by radar satellites orbiting in tandem.

Involving two aircraft flying in very close formation with each carrying a radar instrument, this first flight is part of a larger campaign in Belgium next month.

Our experiment for ESA campaign marks the opening of an exciting new way that radar satellites could be used in the future.

Two radars in tandem could view Earth’s surface from slightly different positions to offer a unique 3D view of the landscape below.

Two Cessna-208 planes flying in tight formation to simulate two radar satellites in orbit. Each plane carries a radar imaging instrument.

While flying two aircraft sounds relatively straightforward, in practice it is a technical tour-de-force calling for well-trained pilots with strong nerves to fly with very little space between each plane.

Christian Trampuz from MetaSensing checking the radar electronics carried on one of two aircraft. These planes were used as part of an experiment campaign to simulate observations that could be made if two satellites carrying radar orbited in tandem.

The ESA page:

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