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Exploration of Synthetic Aperture Radar (SAR) Images


Exploration of Synthetic Aperture Radar (SAR) images poses some unique challenges for interactive applications.

The dynamic range of the amplitude values is much larger than the dynamic range of common display devices. Specialized dynamic range reduction methods are required, both global and locally adaptive. Furthermore, due to the coherent illumination used in SAR systems, SAR images are inherently affected by a high amount of multiplicative speckle noise. This may hinder the interpretation and analysis of the images. A visualization system must therefore offer adjustable despeckling methods.

We developed interactively adjustable processing techniques for these purposes and implemented them in an interactive visualization system based on graphics processing units (GPUs). The system uses level-of-detail techniques to handle the typically very large, high-resolution data sets. It also allows georeferenced SAR images to be used as layers in a more general framework for interactive visualization of remote sensing data.

Free source code for most of these methods is available at https://marlam.de/ecm.

This research project was partially funded by grant KO-2960-3/1,2 from the German Research Foundation (DFG).

A SAR image overlayed over other remote sensing data.
A high resolution SAR image taken by the TerraSAR-X satellite.
An overlayed SAR image showing some automatically detected features.
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