Title of Presentation: Technology Development of a Compact, Radar Digital Receiver

Primary (Corresponding) Author: Brandon Heavey

Organization of Primary Author: Jet Propulsion Lab

Co-Authors: Delwyn Moller, Gregory Sadowy and Jordan Tanabe

Abstract:  As part of a NASA ESTO funded Instrument Incubator Program (IIP), a Ka-band radar interferometer is currently under development to demonstrate the potential for an ice surface topography, swath-mapping sensor at transmit powers that are technologically feasible and practical. The proposed system utilizes digital beam forming (DBF) with an antenna array in elevation. Each array element utilizes a dedicated receiver (16 receivers in the nominal design). These receivers operate in unison to sample the down-converted, L-band radar returns. The design and implementation of this L-band digital receiver is the focus of this paper.

The digital receivers are compact and flexible to meet the demands of the proposed DBF system, but designed in a flexible manner such that they could easily be adapted for use in alternate applications. The receiver design is capable of bandpass sampling RF inputs up to 3.3 GHz at 10-bits. An onboard FPGA is utilized for timing and control, but an oversized part was selected to enable the implementation of various application-specific, real-time algorithms. Data are extracted from the receivers via a front-panel data port (FPDP). This data bus interface facilitates low overhead, high data rate and multi-channel functionality. Finally, all of the key components were selected with a spaceborne implementation in mind; they are all available in radiation-hardened equivalents.