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Low-frequency multi-mode (SAR and penetrating) radar onboard light-weight UAV for Earth and Planetary exploration

Project description

How pocket-sized radars onboard drones will revolutionise planetary exploration

The EU-funded FlyRadar project targets the development of a low-frequency radar system to be mounted onboard a lightweight unmanned aerial vehicle. The radar will operate in two modes: as a synthetic aperture and a ground penetrating radar. Both modes are well suited to image and to map the surface and subsurface of planetary and satellite crusts. Until now, the size, weight and power consumption of such radars were only compatible with transport by aerial or satellite platforms. FlyRadar's pocket-sized radar system will be small enough to be installed onboard an electric unmanned drone. The system will be tested on Earth in places analogous to Martian environments. The system could take place in future missions of exploration of Mars or Titan.


The proposal deals with the production of a dual-mode, low-frequency, radar installed on board of a leight-weight UAV. The radar will operate into two modes: as Synthetic Aperture Radar (SAR) and as ground penetrating radar. Both instruments provide extremely interesting images that are extensively used in Earth and Planetary observations. However, these airborne systems are bulky and can be operated only from manned aircraft both planes and helicopters. On the other hand, the few drones that can sustain such a equipment are large and heavy. In both cases, the operations are expensive and with a complicate logistic. The quantum leap of FlyRadar consists in installing this radar system onboard a small and light electric octocopters, providing low cost utilisation and easy operations. This affordable system will enlarge the user communities generating the possibility for an extensive use of FlyRadar taking advantage of the potentiality of this long-lasting innovation. The use of SAR and penetrating radar is widespread in Earth observation spanning from geological survey to archeological prospecting, from agricultural assessment to artefact detection. However, FlyRadar could be used also in planetary exploration. The NASA mission Mars2020 will test a drone and it will pave the way for the utilisation of UAVs in the in-situ exploration of Mars and Titan. The project is split in two phase. The first half of the project will be devoted in identifying the requirement, in designing instruments and in building them. The second half will be dedicated to the evaluation of FlyRadar with three experiments lasting a month each. The tests will performed in dry desert areas to avoid the negative effect of ground water and humidity on the radar signal. The test executions will be matched by month-long joint sessions for the analysis of the data, assess the scientific value and investigate the technological aspects.


Net EU contribution
€ 354 200,00
65128 Pescara

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The organization defined itself as SME (small and medium-sized enterprise) at the time the Grant Agreement was signed.

Sud Abruzzo Pescara
Activity type
Private for-profit entities (excluding Higher or Secondary Education Establishments)
Total cost
€ 354 200,00

Participants (6)

Partners (1)