Wavelength dependence in radio-wave scattering and specular-point theory


  • G. Leonard Tyler


Radio-wave scattering from natural surfaces contains a strong quasispecular component that at fixed wavelengths is consistent with specular-point theory, but often has a strong wavelength dependence that is not predicted by physical optics calculations under the usual limitations of specular-point models. Wavelength dependence can be introduced by a physical approximation that preserves the specular-point assumptions with respect to the radii of curvature of a fictitious, effective scattering surface obtained by smoothing the actual surface. Wavelength dependence of the scattering, as expressed in terms of the mean-square tilt of the smoothed surface, then depends on an integral of the two-dimensional surface power spectral density. A uniform low-pass filter model of the scattering process yields explicit results for the effective surface roughness versus wavelength. Interpretation of experimental results from planetary surfaces indicates that the asymptotic surface height spectral densities fall at least as fast as an inverse cube of spatial frequency. Asymptotic spectral densities for Mars and portions of the lunar surface evidently decrease more rapidly, at least as fast as an inverse fourth or fifth law of the spatial frequency.