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Module 1.1: Introduction to Radar

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What is Radar?

Radar systems are designed to detect objects at a distance using radio waves. The classic radar was invented to detect aircraft or shipping however, over time, radar has been adopted into all of our lives – with examples such as traffic enforcement cameras and parking sensors through to air traffic control…

Some applications for Radar include:

  • Detection of airborne objects (air traffic control)
  • Detection of other aircraft (air based radar)
  • Detection of objects and planets in space
  • Surface movement measurement of the Earth (interferometric radar)
  • Detection of ballistic missiles (missile defence systems)
  • Detection of ships and landmasses (Radar mounted on ships)
  • Detection of moisture in the atmosphere (meteorology)
  • Ground Penetrating Radar (GPR)

There are many more… To get an idea of some unusual applications for radar you could visit IDS Ingegneria Dei Sistemi website or perform some research online.

Note. IDS are by no means the only manufacturer of unusual radar systems however they are one which, as a former employee, the author is familiar with. Kevin Banks

Over time, we have accepted the term ‘Radar’ into our language. However, it is often forgotten that the term RADAR is in fact an acronym:

‘RADAR’ stands for RAdio Detection And Ranging

It is useful to remember the acronym because it provides a concise and accurate description of what a radar does: A RADAR uses RAdio waves for the purpose of Detecting things and measuring their Range (distance). Fundamentally, this is all a radar can do.

The more interesting and advanced uses of Radar still apply the same simple principles of Detecting and Ranging objects, though are applied through ingenious methods to achieve their goals.

Block diagram of a simple RADAR system
Block diagram of a simple RADAR system
Our Most Common Questions

Frequently Asked Questions

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What can a Ground Penetrating Radar survey detect?

With GPR, you can detect a wide range of objects below ground level, including both metallic and non-metallic objects such as plastic pipework. GPR will also identify and map any voids below the surface, such as air pockets or mine shafts, as well as any other irregularities including concrete and previously excavated or back-filled areas.

Will GPR compromise safety on my site?

GPR equipment emits an electromagnetic pulse into the ground and records the reflected signals from subsurface structures and voids. It is entirely non-destructive and will not break the ground’s surface or affect any objects below. What’s more, it doesn’t emit any harmful levels of radiation, nor are there any other by-products created throughout the process. This means it’s entirely safe to use by its operators, and on sites of any type, including those open to the public.

Is a GPR survey 100% accurate?

While GPR is one of the most effective methods of non-destructive testing available, it can never be 100% accurate. One factor that can adversely affect the accuracy levels include the type of soil being surveyed. Clay soils and soils that contain high levels of salt or minerals can obstruct the GPR reading. Another factor is the experience of the equipment’s operator: interpreting the data collected can be complex, which is why it’s beneficial to commission surveys from an expert firm.

Is GPR equipment difficult to use?

The equipment itself is not difficult to use, but the interpretation of the data recorded tends to be complicated. The results of a GPR survey aren’t automatically translated into an easy-to-understand picture of what lies below the surface; instead, it’s a series of lines and waves and it can take both training and years of practice to master the art of correctly reading the output. Often, it is the experience of the equipment’s operator that plays the most significant role in the accuracy of the results GPR can achieve.

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