What makes up a radar system?
Radar is a group of technologies comprising many implementations of object detection and tracking systems using radio waves. These systems transmit high-powered electromagnetic waves and collect reflections of these waves from objects that can be reached by the transmitted waves. The radar system then uses information from these reflections to determine object characteristics such as location, shape, and velocity. Applications for radar systems include defense-related surveillance and tracking systems, aircraft proximity detectors, weather prediction, and astronomical study.
Radar systems are made up of one or more transmitting elements, transmitting these electromagnetic waves through some area. A diagram of a typical radar system is shown in the figure above.
REX (standing for Receiver/EXciter) units interface with the antenna such that they transmit electromagnetic radiation via their exciters and receive partial reflections of this transmitted radiation via their receivers. The signal to transmit is fed into a REX from the data processor and the returns are processed by the signal processor.
The data processor also instructs the antenna to be steered electrically or physically via the beam steering module. The data processor is also responsible for system communications and displaying information. Data capture units may also be present to capture live, pre-processed data from the receiver and to capture processed data from the signal processor.
The REX, antenna, and related systems are known as the radar “front-end,” (shown in the figure above as the green box on the left). The front-end is responsible for actually sending and receiving the electromagnetic waves used in forming spatial observations (e.g., weather monitoring, object detection and tracking). The signal processor, data processor, and related systems are known as the “back-end” (shown in the figure above as the blue box on the right) and are involved in processing of data and system command and control.
The systems share a time synchronization unit, represented in the figure above by the clock in the back-end part of the diagram.
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