1.4 System Description and Recent Observations from Front-X: A Dual-Polarization X-Band Phased-Array Radar

Tuesday, 8 January 2019: 9:30 AM
North 128AB (Phoenix Convention Center - West and North Buildings)
Alexander Morin, Colorado State Univ., Fort Collins, CO; and J. George and V. Chandrasekar

Front-X is a dual-polarization X-band phased array weather radar which is capable of both electronic and traditional mechanical beam steering and produces live weather data using a real-time signal processor. In tandem with the highly configurable pulse-compression waveform generator and digital receiver, the system controller and signal processor are designed make the radar flexible and easy to implement new scan modes and accompanying signal processing algorithms which take advantage of the phased array antenna. The purpose of Front-X is to act as a research platform for exploring novel scan strategies, pulsing schemes, and signal processing algorithms which can only be achieved with electronic beam steering, and compare the results to more traditional data collection methods using mechanical beam steering with the same radar. Additionally, the dual-polarization capability of the system can be used to verify the efficacy of dual-polarization weather measurements using phased array antennas.
The significantly faster scan speeds made possible by phased array radars like Front-X enable the use of adaptive scan strategies which optimize how weather is observed, for example, the scan strategies discussed in Nguyen and Chandrasekar (2017). These scan strategies adapt to the space-time variability of storms by allocating more frequent scanning of rapidly evolving regions which is only possible with electronic beam steering. Furthermore, the ray-by-ray basis on which these scan strategies function is more easily implemented on a flexible system like Front-X which can rapidly change pulsing scheme and waveform within a single scan. The modular design of the system controller and signal processor facilitates the development of these new adaptive scan strategies so that scientists and engineers can automate the radar and display the output weather data in real-time.
This paper presents a system-level overview of the Front-X radar, along with examples of data collected by the radar in summer precipitation. Comparisons against existing mechanically scanned radars are also presented.
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