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JAXA and iQPS achieve in-orbit imaging processing of
synthetic aperture radar (SAR) data

July 21, 2023 (JST)

Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency (JAXA)
iQPS Inc.

JAXA (Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency) and Institute for Q-shu Pioneers of Space, Inc. (iQPS) successfully achieved in-orbit imaging of Synthetic Aperture Radar (SAR) (Note 1) data using FLIP(Fast L1 Processor), the onboard SAR imaging processor equipped on the QPS-SAR-6, “AMATERU-III.” FLIP has been successfully applied (Note 2) (Figure 1) by adapting algorithms suitable for high-speed processing on field programmable gate arrays (FPGAs).

JAXA and iQPS conducted a joint research for the in-orbit technology demonstration of FLIP, and launched it on June 13, 2023 aboard the AMATERU-III. As part of the initial checks after the satellite went into orbit, pre-stored SAR data (Note 3) was processed in-orbit using FLIP and was confirmed to result in successful high-speed (approximately 23 seconds) imaging (Figure 2). Furthermore, by compressing the raw data, the amount of data transmission was reduced to less than 1/1000 (0.0845%), significantly cutting the time required to obtain SAR images on the ground.

This technology is expected to increase the speed at which users will be able to receive SAR images on demand, further advancing towards the realization of near-real-time observation data through a constellation of 36 small SAR satellites pursued by iQPS. This progress holds the potential for creating new value, addressing societal challenges, and fostering new business opportunities.

(Note 1)
SAR (Synthetic Aperture Radar): A radar system that uses radio waves to obtain images of the Earth's surface. Its ability to penetrate through clouds and smoke, and to observe day and night, are some key features.

(Note 3)
The original SAR data was acquired by the QPS-SAR-2, “IZANAMI.”

(Figure 1) FLIP, the onboard SAR imaging processor.

© JAXA/ Alouette Technology Inc.

(Figure 2) SAR image of the Tokyo Haneda International Airport and its vicinity.