Anybody reading this has likely heard of the term radar before, but how does this technology work? Most people have been exposed to radar technology in movies where it finds use in aircraft and submarines, but radar is also used in a wide variety of other applications. In this blog, we will discuss the function and applications of radar and radio-detection technology.
Radar technology was first examined in the late 1800s when physicist Heinrich Hertz surveyed the properties of electromagnetic waves. In his study, he noticed that certain wavelengths could be readily reflected off objects and also focused at will. From then until WWII, many scientists and military engineers were looking for ways to implement radar technology on aircraft to help them identify enemy aeronautical vessels. In 1934, the Army Signal Corps used continuous radio waves to detect short-range targets but postulated that the same technology could be used over longer distances.
Modern radar involves a system that can send and interpret electromagnetic waves and use this information to provide the user with the accurate location of various targets. When used on aircraft, ground stations, or nautical vessels, the system sends electromagnetic energy in different directions, which bounces off whatever objects it meets and provides a feedback signal that can be interpreted by the system. The device that is capable of sending an electromagnetic signal is the transmitter. This device typically produces waves found in the microwave region of the electromagnetic spectrum, which are defined as waves having frequencies between 400 Mhz to 40 Ghz. Once the wave strikes a target, it scatters in several directions, including that of the radar system. The antenna initially receives this returned signal, which is then transmitted to the receiver, where it is processed.
Radar technology can provide the user with several important metrics about the target. First, it determines distance by calculating the time it takes for a wave to travel from the transmitter back to the antenna. It can also establish an object's direction by calculating the wave's maximum amplitude in relation to the antenna. Finally, radar uses a principle called the doppler effect to determine the position of a moving object by calculating the quotient of the receiver velocity over the source velocity.
While the described operating principle explains how radar technology works in general, there are various types of radar that are thus explained:
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