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Microwave Radiometry. Ch6 Ulaby & Long INEL 6669 Dr. X-Pol. Outline. Introduction Thermal Radiation Black body radiation Rayleigh-Jeans Power-Temperature correspondence Non-Blackbody radiation T B , brightness temperature T AP , apparent temperature T A , antenna temperature

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Microwave Radiometry

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Microwave radiometry

Microwave Radiometry

Ch6 Ulaby & Long

INEL 6669

Dr. X-Pol



  • Introduction

  • Thermal Radiation

  • Black body radiation

    • Rayleigh-Jeans

  • Power-Temperature correspondence

  • Non-Blackbody radiation

    • TB, brightness temperature

    • TAP, apparent temperature

    • TA, antenna temperature

  • More realistic Antenna

    • Effect of the beam shape

    • Effect of the losses of the antenna

Thermal radiation

Thermal Radiation

  • All matter(at T>0K) radiates electromagnetic energy!

  • Atoms radiate at discrete frequencies given by the specific transitions between atomic energy levels. (Quantum theory)

    • Incident energy on atom can be absorbed by it to move an e- to a higher level, given that the frequency satisfies the Bohr’sequation.

    • f = (E1 - E2) /h


      h = Planck’s constant = 6.63x10-34 J

Thermal radiation1

Thermal Radiation

  • absorption => e- moves to higher level

  • emission=> e- moves to lower level

    (collisions cause emission)

    Absortion Spectra = Emission Spectra

  • atomic gases have (discrete) line spectra according to the allowable transition energy levels.

Molecular radiation spectra

Molecular Radiation Spectra

  • Molecules consist of several atoms.

  • They are associated to a set of vibrational and rotational motion modes.

  • Each mode is related to an allowable energy level.

  • Spectra is due to contributions from; vibrations, rotation and electronic transitions.

  • Molecular Spectra = many lines clustered together; not discrete but continuous.

Atmospheric windows

Atmospheric Windows




(blue area)

Radiation by bodies liquids solids

Radiation by bodies (liquids - solids)

  • Liquids and solids consist of many molecules which make radiation spectrum very complex, continuous; all frequencies radiate.

  • Radiation spectra depends on how hot is the object as given by Planck’s radiation law.

Commontemperature conversion

CommonTemperature -conversion

  • 90oF = 305K = 32oC

  • 80oF = 300K = 27oC

  • 70oF = 294K = 21oC

  • 32oF = 273K=0oC

  • 0oF = 255K = -18oC

  • -280oF = 100K = -173oC

Spectral brightness intensity i f planck s law

Spectral brightness intensityIf [Planck’s Law]

Microwave radiometry


Solar radiation t sun 5 800 k

Solar Radiation Tsun= 5,800 K

Properties of planck s law

Properties of Planck’s Law

  • fm = frequency at which the maximum radiation occurs

    fm = 5.87 x 1010 T [Hz]

    where T is in Kelvins

  • Maximumspectral Brightness Bf (fm)

    If (fm) = c1 T3

    where c1 = 1.37 x 10-19 [W/(m2srHzK3)]

Problem 4 1

Problem 4.1

  • Solar emission is characterized by a blackbody temperature of 5800 K. Of the total brightness radiated by such a body, what percentage is radiated over the frequency band between fm/2 and 2 fm, where fm is the frequency at which the spectral brightness Bf is maximum?

Stefan boltzmann total brightness of body at t

Stefan-Boltzmann Total brightness of body at T

  • Total brightness is


where the


constant is

s= 5.67x10-8 W/m2K4sr

20M W/m2 sr

13M W/m2 sr


Solar power

Solar power

  • How much solar power could ideally be captured per square meter for each Steradian?

Blackbody radiation given by planck s law

Blackbody Radiation -given by Planck’s Law

  • Measure spectral brightness If [Planck]

  • For microwaves, Rayleigh-Jeans Law,

    conditionhf/kT<<1(low f ) , then ex-1 x

At T<300K, the error < 1% for f<117GHz),

and error< 3% for f<300GHz)

Rayleigh jeans approximation

Rayleigh-Jeans Approximation

Mie Theory




T< 300K




Total power measured due to objects brightness i f

Total power measured due to objects Brightness, If

I=Brightness=radiance [W/m2 sr]

If= spectral brightness (B per unit Hz)

Il= spectral brightness (B per unit cm)

Fn= normalized antenna radiation pattern

W= solid angle [steradians]

Ar=antenna aperture on receiver

Power temperature correspondence

Power-Temperature correspondence

Analogy with a resistor noise

Analogy with a resistor noise

Direct linear relation

power and temperature

Analogous to Nyquist;

noise power from R






*The blackbody can be at any distance from the antenna.

Non blackbody radiation

Non-blackbody radiation

For Blackbody,


But in nature,

we find variations

with direction, I(q,f)

Isothermal medium at physical temperature T

=>So, define a radiometric temperature (bb equivalent) TB

Emissivity e

Emissivity, e

  • The brightness temperature of a material relative to that of a blackbody at the same temperature T. (it’s always “cooler”)

TBis related to the self-emitted radiation from the

observed object(s).

Quartz versus bb at same t

Quartz versus BB at same T

Emissivity depends also

on the frequency.

Ocean color visible radiation

Ocean (color) visible radiation

  • Pure Water is turquoise blue

  • The ocean is blue because it absorbs all the other colors. The only color left to reflect out of the ocean is blue.

    “Sunlight shines on the ocean, and all the colors of the rainbow go into the water. Red, yellow, green, and blue all go into the sea. Then, the sea absorbs the red, yellow, and green light, leaving the blue light. Some of the blue light scatters off water molecules, and the scattered blue light comes back out of the sea. This is the blue you see.”

    Robert Stewart, Professor

    Department of Oceanography, Texas A&M University

Apparent temperature t ap

Apparent Temperature, TAP

Is the equivalent T in connection with the power incident upon the antenna


Antenna temperature t a

Antenna Temperature, TA

Noise power received at antenna terminals.

Antenna temperature cont

Antenna Temperature (cont…)

  • Using we can rewrite as

  • for discrete source such as the Sun.

Antenna beam efficiency h m

Antenna Beam Efficiency, hM

  • Accounts for sidelobes & pattern shape

  • TA= hb TML +(1- hb)TSL

Radiation efficiency h l

Radiation Efficiency, hl

Heat loss on the antenna structure produces a noise power proportional to the physical temperature of the antenna, given as


The hlaccounts for losses in a real antenna

TA’= xTA +(1-x)To



Combining both effects

Combining both effects

  • Combining both effects

    TA’= xhb TML + x (1- hb)TSL+(1-x)To

TML= 1/(xhb) TA’+ [(1- hM)/ hb]TSL+(1-x)To/ xhB

TML= aTA+b

  • *where, TA’ = measured,

  • TML = to be estimated

  • a= scaling factor

  • b= bias term

Ej microwave radiometer

Ej. Microwave Radiometer

  • K-band radiometer measures blackbody radiation from object at 200K. The receiver has a bandwidth of 1GHz. What’s the maximum power incident on the radiometer antenna?

Ej the arecibo observatory

Ej. The Arecibo Observatory…

…measured an antenna temperature of 245K when looking at planet Venus which subtends a planar angle of 0.003o. The Arecibo antenna used has an effective diameter is 290m, its physical temperature is 300K, its radiation efficiency is 0.9 and it’s operating at 300GHz (l=1cm).

  • what is the apparent temperature of the antenna?

  • what is the apparent temperature of Venus?

  • If we assumed lossless, what’s the error?


TVenus= 130K

TVenus= 136K (4% error)

Demo of rayleigh jeans

Demo of Rayleigh-Jeans


  • Let’s assume T=300K, f=5GHz, Df=200MHz






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