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Center Independent Research & Development: GSFC IRAD

Addition of a Digital Receiver to the X-BADGER Radar System

Completed Technology Project

Project Description

This image shows the custom modification to the X-BADGER research trailer. The top of the white box is a custom built radome that allows for the radar beam to travel through, but protects the interior of the trailer from rain and hail.

Over the past year, the X-Band Atmospheric Doppler Ground-based Radar (X-BADGER) transmitter has undergone a major upgrade from a high voltage traveling-wave tube to a solid-state power amplifier (SSPA). For X-BADGER to reach its highest potential, the addition of a digital receiver is necessary to utilize the recent hardware upgrade. The small size and mobility of X-BADGER makes it attractive for field deployment for ground validation (GV) of spaceborne missions involving precipitation and the hydrological cycle, such as the Global Precipitation Measurement (GPM) mission, Surface Water and Ocean Topography (SWOT), and the Soil Moisture Active Passive (SMAP) mission.

The X-BADGER system is based on the ER-2 Doppler (EDOP) radar, which was built in 1994, flown in multiple field campaigns, and worked consistently as a ground-based vertically pointing radar with an antenna on the rooftop of Building 33 from 2007 until 2011. The objective of this year’s IRAD project is to complete the creation of a new solid-state radar with two digital receivers. One digital receiver will be dedicated for the zenith beam and the other will be dedicated for the horizontal and vertical channels for the dual polarimetric forward pointing beam. In the previous EDOP system, the data required post-processing after the transmitter stopped. The addition of digital receivers will allow for real-time processing of data and creation of Quicklooks in near real-time, which is crucial for field campaign performance. An additional benefit of upgrading to a digital receiver is that all of the radars in the Microwave Sensors Lab use the same type of digital receiver.

As soon as the installation of the two digital receivers to X-BADGER is complete, the radar will move to Wallops for long-term deployment as part of the GPM Wallops Precipitation Research Facility (PRF) for Error Characterization led by Dr. Walt Petersen (GPM Ground Validation Science Manager). The radar will be used for studies involving precipitation error characterization, variability in satellite field of view (FOV), and precipitation vertical profile physics. In the future, it is envisioned that X-BADGER could be deployed as part of the existing GSFC/WFF PRF multi-frequency radar infrastructure for support of additional future mission field campaign studies. We are poised to obtain funding for the GPM OLYMPEX field campaign in FY16 if X-BADGER is completed and initial testing of the radar in an operational setting is completed during FY15.


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