An interferometric synthetic aperture radar (SAR) simulator was created for the purposes of experimenting with and demonstration of the interferometric process, mission planning and radar image interpretation. The simulation method employs statistics and terrain geometry to form a synthetic image and requires inputs of a digital elevation model (DEM), flight path description, radar parameters, a terrain classification map and temporal decorrelation factors. Output images include the following images: radar cross section, power, total coherence, temporal coherence factor, geometrical coherence factor, absolute phase, interferograms and flattened interferograms.
The simulated images are compared with actual SAR images from the European Space Agency’s ERS (Earth Remote Sensing) imaging satellites to which a good correlation can be seen. The simulator’s strength is in portraying regions of rocky terrain and sparse to moderate vegetation, where the geometric information provided by the terrain model is the primary contributor to the image statistics. An empirically derived backscatter model and a speckle generation program were implemented to further develop more realistic greytone and texture. Upgrades to incorporate a general flight path and a model for the receiver transfer function and other future improvements are discussed.