Spaceborne scatterometer instruments are important tools for the remote sensing of the Earth's environment. In addition to the primary goal of measuring ocean winds, data from scatterometers have proven useful in the study of a variety of land and cryopshere processes as well. Several satellites carrying scatterometers have flown in the last two decades. These previous systems have been "fan-beam" scatterometers, where multiple antennas placed in fixed positions are used. The fan-beam scatterometer approach, however, has disadvantages which limit its utility for future missions. An alternate approach, the conically-scanning "pencil-beam" scatterometer technique, alleviates many of the problems encountered with earlier systems and provides additional measurement capability. Due to these advantages, the pencil-beam approach has been selected by NASA as the basis for future scatterometer missions. Whereas the fan-beam approach is mature and well understood, there is need for a fundamental study of the unique aspects of the pencil-beam technique.

In this dissertation, a comprehensive treatment of the design issues associated with pencil-beam scatterometers is presented. A new methodology is established for evaluating and optimizing the performance of conically-scanning radar systems. Employing this methodology, key results are developed and used in the design of the SeaWinds instrument - NASA's first pencil-beam scatterometer. Further, the theoretical framework presented in this study is used to propose new scatterometer techniques which will significantly improve the spatial resolution and measurement accuracy of future instruments.



College and Department

Ira A. Fulton College of Engineering and Technology; Electrical and Computer Engineering



Date Submitted


Document Type





scatterometry, scatterometer, SeaWinds, pencil-beam, fan-beam, ocean winds, resolution