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MAPSAR: a New L-Band Spaceborne Light SAR Mission for Assessment and Monitoring of Terrestrial Natural Resources

National Institute for Space Research - INPE - Brazil

German Aerospace Center - DLR - Germany

Institute of Lightweight Structures - TU Munich - Germany



  • Motivation
  • Background
  • Satellite Concept
  • Sensor Concept and Performance
  • Compliance with User Requirements
  • Current Status



Systems Engineering

Satellite AIT (assembly, integration and test)

SIVAM Airborne Simulation in Brazil

DLR SAR Sensor

Orbit Analysis

ESAR Airborne Simulation in Europe

TUM Reflector Antenna



  • To verify the feasibility of a satellite on the 500 kg class mission with a Light SAR payload.
  • To fulfill the requirements for German and Brazilian users for assessment and monitoring of Terrestrial Natural Resources, considering the following themes:
  • Agriculture
  • Cartography
  • Disaster Management
  • Forestry
  • Geology
  • Geomorphology
  • Hydrology
  • Oceanography
  • Urban studies
  • Defense/Intelligence


  • 20 years cooperation between INPE and DLR.
  • Late 90’s: mission proposal from DLR to INPE for Amazon Region observation based on a Light SAR sensor.
  • July 2001: joint project establishment for system evaluation.
  • October 2001: users workshop at DLR.
  • April 2002: users workshop at INPE.
  • July 2002: Consolidation of user requirements.
  • December 2002: Pre-phase A conclusion.
  • December 2003: Phase A study was established (2004-2005 period).
MAPSAR Workshop April 15, 2002


. Hosted by INPE,

. 83 registered workshop attendees,

. 28 agencies (mainly Brazilian governmental level),

. 09 0ral presentations (invited-speakers), 01 Plenary Session,

. Main Application Fields: Agriculture



Disaster Management





Urban Studies


MAPSAR Application User Requirements

Black - Brazilian User Requirements / Blue - German User Requirements


System Constraints

  • Satellite constraints related to:
  • mass
  • power generation
  • geometric envelope
  • data rate
  • Imposed the following limitations:
  • single band
  • reflector antenna
  • max 55 km swath

MAPSAR Final Application User Requirements

User/MAPSAR parameters

Frequency L

Polarization single,dual and quad. pol.

Incidence Interval 20°- 45°

Spatial Resolution 3-20 meters

Swath 20 km - 55 km

Orbit Inclination sun-synchronous

Coverage global

Look Direction ascending/descending and left/right looking

Revisit weekly

Access to data near real time

Additional Requirement InSAR and Stereoscopy


Mission Baseline

  • Strong oriented to an operational application system serving “public good” , not excluding scientific and commercial aspects.
  • Thematic Mapping and Monitoring purposes.
  • Mission continuation (series of satellites).
Satellite Concept


Independent AIT for Payload and Platform modules


Cost reduction

Shorter schedule

High reliability


MMP performance

  • ACDH:
    • Pointing accuracy: < 0.05o (3 σ)
    • Drift: < 0.001o/s
    • Attitude determination: < 0.005o (3 σ)
    • Off pointing of: 30o in 120 seconds
  • Payload Capability:
    • Mass: up to 280 kg
    • Volume: compatible with class of launchers
    • Power supply: 175 W average
    • 900 W peak

MMP Development Status

    • Power Supply, Structure, TT&C and Propulsion subsystems contracted in December 2001.
    • PDR (Preliminary Design Review) in May 2003.
    • CDR (Critical Design Review) performed in 2004.
    • ACDH (Attitude Control and Data Handling) to be contracted.
    • Total development at the end of 2007.
payload module
Payload Module
  • - Limitations imposed by the MMP performance
          • Mass
          • Power
          • ACDH
          • Envelope
  • - Functional Block Diagram
  • - Proposed Configuration
mapsar mass budget
MAPSAR Mass Budget

MMP 250 kg

MAPSAR total 520.1 kg


Proposed Antenna Concept

Antenna Trade-Off Result:

Elliptical parabolic main reflector

7,5 m length (azimuth)

5 m width (range)

Cassegrain type subreflector

67 cm length (azimuth)

93 cm width (elevation)

Distance to main reflector: 2,8 m.

Feed type: horn antenna

Technology Example:

HALCA (MUSES-B), the first astronomical satellite dedicated to Very-Long Baseline Interferometry (VLBI), was launched from Kagoshima Space Center on February 12, 1997.

Operating frequency 1.6-1.73 GHz

Reflector diameter 8 m


Design Goals

  • Reflector aperture 5 m x 7.5 m, elliptical.
  • Shape accuracy 5 mm RMS (TBD).
  • Low mass < 2 kg/m2.
  • High design flexibility for the range of requirements (incl. launch and space environment).
  • Easy integration of enabling technologies (reflecting surface, deployment and shape control etc.)

Access Region / Field of View

Off-nadir angle

620 km

Incidence angle




204 km

395 km

Current swath is selected by rolling the whole satellite


Radar Modes

MAPSAR operates three different resolution modes (3m, 10m, 20m) in three

different polarization modes: Single (SPM), Dual (DPM), Quad (QPM).

Overview of important modes:


Radar Beam Specification

Radar Beam specification (Medium/Low Resolution)

SPM, DPM low/medium res. (20/10 m): 31- 55 km swath

SPM high res (3m): 5 - 38 km swath

QPM low res. (20 m): 28 – 43.4 km swath

QPM medium res. (10 m): 22 – 23.3 km swath



  • Pre-phase A study has been completed.
  • Preliminary feasibility was demonstrated for reflector antenna concept.
  • High interaction with users to define the mission.
  • Degree of innovation: 500 kg class SAR satellite, reflector antenna, sensor performance.
  • Applications will take advantage of high resolution L-band SAR with enhanced capabilities (polarimetry, stereoscopy, interferometry), particularly suitable for the Amazon region and Boreal forest.
  • Critical items: antenna deployment mechanism, solid state high power amplifier.
  • Cost estimate 90 MUS$ including launcher.
  • Estimated time to deployment 6 years (2008-2009).

Phase A Activities (2004-2005)

  • Refinement of the mission requirements and establishment of a function tree of the complete system.
  • Exploration of alternative system concepts against mission needs.
  • Investigation of the feasibility of selected orbit with respect to revisit time, stereoscopic and interferometric capabilities.
  • Investigation of the feasibility of SAR sensor performance and technology evaluation (core radar definition, equipment specification, industrial feasibility).
  • MMP bus system/subsystems/equipment (MMP performance and configuration, equipment specification, industrial feasibility).
  • Interfaces between MMP and the SAR payload (systems segments).
  • Ground system conception and technology.
  • Airborne simulation campaign (development of MAPSAR user-oriented value added products).

SAR - Banda L

λ= 23,9 cm (1.27 GHz)

SAR - Banda X

λ= 3,1 cm (9.68 GHz)


SIVAM R-99 Mapping Modes

Quad L + Single X

Dual L + Single X

InSAR + Single L

Quad L

Single L + Single X

InSAR + Quad L


SIVAM R-99 SAR: resolution and swaths

Quad L + X (3m) – 10km

Quad L + X (6m) – 20km

Quad L + X (18m) – 60km

Dual L + X (3m) – 20km

Dual L + X (6m) – 40km

Dual L + X (18m) – 120km

Quad L (3m) – 10km

Quad L (6m) – 20km

Quad L (18m) – 60km

L + X (3m) – 20km

L + X (6m) – 40km

L + X (18m) – 120km


SIVAM SAR R-99: resolution and incidence

Quad L (3m) – 36º - 83º

Quad L (6m) – 36º - 83º

Quad L (18m) – 36º - 84º

L + X (3m) – 36º - 83º

L + X (6m) – 36º - 83º

L + X (18m) – 45º - 84º

Quad L + X (3m) – 36º - 80º

Quad L + X (6m) – 36º - 80º

Quad L + X (18m) – 45º - 80º

Dual L + X (3m) – 36º - 83º

Dual L + X (6m) – 36º - 83º

Dual L + X (18m) – 45º - 84º



Serra do Tepequem – Roraima ( spatial resolution = 6m)




Serra do Tepequem – Roraima ( spatial resolution = 6m)




Serra do Tepequem – Roraima ( spatial resolution = 6m)


MAPSAR Simulation (SIPAM SAR Application Program)

  • Goals
  • to test MAPSAR sensor configuration and establish a proof of concept to meet users need.
  • to strengthen the capabilities of end-users (“critical mass”) for the effective usage of MAPSAR data for resource assessment, management and environmental monitoring, particularly in the Amazon Region.
  • to encourage the utilization of new information derived from MAPSAR (multipolarized L-band images) by relying heavily on Airborne R-99 as a data source for research, application and training projects.
  • to provide demonstration MAPSAR value-added products for applications (preparing users for the advent of MAPSAR).

MAPSAR Simulation (SIVAM R-99 campaign)

  • Proposed strategy :
  • To simulate MAPSAR far range images (beams7-10) with SIVAM A1.Quad L+X near range mode (incidence: 40 – 48 degrees).
  • Balanced agenda of applications.
  • Strong participation of INPE and potential end-users in the proposals (government, university and industry).

MAPSAR Simulation (SIPAM SAR Application Program)

  • Test Sites:
  • Agriculture: Barreiras (BA) – EMBRAPA, INPE, UnB, UFRJ, CPRM
  • Coastal Zone Studies: Bragança (PA) – UFPa, M.P.E. Goeldi, INPE
  • Disaster Management: Terminal Coari/Manaus (AM) – PETROBRAS
  • Forestry: Tapajós (PA) – INPE, DSG, DLR
  • Geology: Carajás (PA)/Curaçá (BA) – INPE, Unicamp, CVRD, CPRM
  • Hydrology/Forestry: Lago Grande (PA): UVIC (Canadá), UFPa, INPE
  • Hydrology/Forestry: Igarapé Açu (AM) – INPE, INPA, JPL

News from the last DLR meeting (Nov 2004)

  • Travelling waves tubes technology may replace solid state high power amplifiers for the radar sensor (space qualified from SAR-LUPE).
  • a new configuration for the PMM and payload interface will be proposed by INPE taking into account the reflector antenna deployment mechanism.
  • a demonstrator for thereflector antenna performance is under developement at the Technical University of Munich.
  • two MAPSAR orbit configurations are under investigation: 7 days repetition cycle for interferometry and 39 days (or 41 days) orbit for stereoscopic applications.
  • A paper with the current status of MAPSAR project will be presented in Goiânia (BRSS-2005).


  • Motivation
  • Background
  • Satellite Concept
  • Sensor Concept and Performance
  • Compliance with User Requirements
  • Current Status