Radio Science

The Manastash Ridge radar: A passive bistatic radar for upper atmospheric radio science


  • John D. Sahr,

  • Frank D. Lind


We describe a novel method for radar remote sensing of the upper atmosphere which relies upon commercial FM broadcasts near 100 MHz. These broadcasts have high average power and excellent radar ambiguity function. With proper processing we can study the spatial and temporal distribution and Doppler spectrum with excellent and completely unambiguous resolution. Since this passive system has no transmitter, there are enormous benefits in safety, expense, shielding, antenna and receiver design, and licensing issues. Some new problems are introduced, but these are solved with relatively little expense. After presenting the technical basis for such a radar, we describe an instrument that we are building at the University of Washington to study high-latitude plasma irregularities in the E region.