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Slick Thickness Characterization Based on Low Noise, Polarized Synthetic Aperture Radar

Office/Division Program
Project Number
Research Performing Activity
NASA Jet Propulsion Labroratory
Research Principal Investigator
Dr. Cathleen Jones
Research Contract Award Value

The project team will use radar technology instead of optical or infrared methods in order to enable 24-hour, weather independent operation that can be deployed in inclement or difficult to access environments, and reduce dependence upon on-site personnel. The team will evaluate the capability of low noise L-band (1.26 GHz) synthetic aperture radar (SAR) imagery acquired by the Uninhabited Aerial Vehicle Synthetic Aperture Radar (UAVSAR) sensor.
The goal is to determine how accurately slick thickness can be determined from SAR, including the extent to which weather conditions change the SAR backscatter and affect the parameters used to determine the oil thickness and fraction. The project will also determine whether and what calibration data are needed for the SAR thickness determination, including how changes in wind condition will alter the measurements and whether recalibration will be needed.

Latest progress update

During the Huntington oil spill, NASA's airplane (UAVSAR) equipped with Synthetic Aperture Radar flew one flight over the potentially impacted area . Algorithm has been developed to generate full resolution of subject area in the format needed for NOAA's Environmental Response Management Application (ERMA) based on lessons learned during Hurricane Ida prior to the flight. The on-board processor was run during the flight to generate low resolution images, which were uploaded to NOAA's Data Integration Visualization Exploration and Reporting (DIVER) system within 4 hours of landing. Automated algorithm has been tested for classifying slick data. A draft final report is being developed.