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Home Directory Satellite Missions R RISAT-1

RISAT-1 (Radar Imaging Satellite-1)
RISAT is the first indigenous satellite imaging mission of ISRO (Indian Space Research Organization) using an
active radar sensor system, namely a C-band SAR (Synthetic Aperture Radar) imager, an important microwave
complement to its optical IRS (Indian Remote Sensing Satellite) series observation missions. The overall
objective of the RISAT mission is to use the all-weather as well as the day-and-night SAR observation capability in
applications such as agriculture, forestry, soil moisture, geology, sea ice, coastal monitoring, object identification,
and flood monitoring. The RISAT specifications have been drawn with the national requirements in mind. 1) 2) 3) 4)

RISAT is a newly developed agile spacecraft, featuring a multi-mode and multi-polarization SAR system in Cband, providing spatial resolutions in the range of 1-50 m on swath widths ranging from of 10-225 km.

Figure 1: Illustration of the deployed RISAT-1 spacecraft (image credit: ISRO)

RISAT-1 comprises around 1400 subsystems, including 300 processors. The active array subsystems are large
in number and less on design variety. Each of the subsystems requires rigorous space grade fabrication and
qualification. Fabrication and characterization of each of these subsystems are typically spread over 56 weeks.
Industrial production and space qualification of the subsystems were carried out by the Indian industry based on
in-house designs of ISRO. These industries had limited exposure to space-grade electronics and therefore in the
spirit of partnership, they had to undergo a rigorous regime of training in space-grade fabrication processes,
qualification methods and documentation processes. This also helped in the development of indigenous source
of RF MMICs (Monolithic Microwave Integrated Circuits), TR modules, ASICs (Application Specific Integrated
Circuits), miniaturized power supply and printed antenna array. RISAT-1 effectively acted as a catalyst in expanding
the indigenous industrial base for production of space-grade SAR subsystems. 6)
ISRO used its in-house pool of ingenuity in conceptualizing, engineering and realizing the SAR system of RISAT-1,
which is a vastly complex payload with significant level of flexibility in reconfiguration to meet different imaging
requirements and ease of operability. This was possible because of large on-board software spread over 300
processors. The characterization of the system itself was unique, where all the 126 beams have been
characterized with precision. This resulted in calibration and quick operationalization of the system.
Realization of the RISAT-1 state-of-the-art radar imaging satellite needed significant developments in the
spacecraft capabilities to accommodate large mass, power and transmission data rates. For example, the data
transmission rate was increased six fold from 110 to 640 Mbit/s. With a mass of 1858 kg, RISAT-1 is heaviest
among ISROs remote sensing satellites, it is the lightest satellite compared to those belonging to the same

The spacecraft structure is designed to meet the stiffness, strength and pointing requirements of the payload,
sensors and also confining the overall bus volume within the launch vehicle envelope. It is based on a single bus
concept built around a central cylinder. A truncated triangular structure is built around the cylinder to hold the SAR

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antenna and major bus service elements. A cuboid structure is built on top of the cylinder to accommodate the
solar arrays, majority of the sensors and antennae. The primary structure consists of a central cylinder, interface
rings and shear webs. The central cylinder is of sandwich construction with aluminum core and CFRP (Carbon
Fiber Reinforced Polymer) face skin. It has an aluminum alloy interface ring at the bottom to interface with the
launch vehicle. The cylinder also provides interface for the propellant tank and reaction wheel deck. The secondary
structures consist of equipment panels/decks of the payload module and the cuboid module (Ref. 5).

Figure 2: Illustration of the RISAT-1 main structure (image credit: ISRO)

Figure 3: Block diagram of the RISAT-1 spacecraft (image credit: ISRO, Ref. 5)
The payload module structure consists of three equipment panels, three corner panels and top and bottom deck.
All the equipment panels and corner panels of the payload module are made of sandwich construction with
aluminum core and aluminum face skin, whereas the shear webs are made of sandwich construction with CFRP
face skin. The triangular decks carry the hold-down brackets to hold the SAR antenna in launch configuration.
The SAR antenna is comprised of three panels, of which one is fixed and the other two are stowed onto either
sides of the triangular structure during launch and are deployed in the orbit. Tile substrate and panel frame are
two basic structures over which the SAR payload is built. The radiation patch antennae are bonded on one side of
the tile substrate and the tile electronics mounted on the other side of the substrate. Four tiles form a panel for the
SAR antenna. To support these four tiles, a framed structure is evolved. Most of the sensors, antennae, solar

arrays and their associated electronics are mounted in the cuboid module. RISAT-1 main structure is shown in
Figure 2.
The subsystem layout has been evolved considering various factors like electrical requirements, interfaces
among various subsystems, physical size and location feasibility, look angle and FOV (Field of View)
requirements of various elements (payloads, sensors, antennae), thermal requirements, mechanical loads,
transmissibility factors, physical parameters and balancing, ease of assembly/dis-assembly and accessibility
during AIT (Assembly, Integration and Testing) and pre-launch operations. All the subsystem electronics
packages are accommodated on the equipment decks/panels.
The payload module (triangular structure) accommodates most of the mainframe systems and the payload
electronics. The cuboid module accommodates solar arrays, most of the sensors and antennae, viz. DSS (Digital
Sun Sensor), SPSS (Solar Panel Sun Sensor), ES (Earth Sensor), 4 sun sensors, PAA (Phase Array Antenna),
TTC antennae and SPS (Satellite Positioning Subsystem). All the RCS (Reaction Control Subsystem)
components are accommodated on one of the shear webs and the exterior surface of the triangular bottom deck.
The propellant tank is mounted inside the main cylinder. The reaction wheels are mounted on a circular deck in a
tetrahedral configuration. The circular deck is accommodated inside the main cylinder below the tank and is
connected to the cylinder through a ring.
TCS (Thermal Control Subsystem): The configuration and equatorial crossing time of RISAT-1 are different from
other satellites in the IRS series of ISRO. Though it is an Earth-oriented satellite, during payload operation the
satellite will be rotated by 36 about the roll axis. This new configuration, orientation and equatorial crossing
time result in new external load patterns and extreme load conditions which are different from other IRS satellites.
Moreover, a number of heat dissipating packages are accommodated inside the structure.
Thermal control is provided using space-proven thermal control elements such as an OSR (Optical Solar
Reflector), MLI (Multilayer Insulation), paints, thermal control tapes, quartz wool blanket, sink plates and heat
pipes. In addition, heaters will be provided to maintain temperatures during cold conditions.
Mechanisms: The RISAT-1 spacecraft employs a SAR antenna deployment mechanism and a solar array
deployment mechanism. The SAR antenna and the solar array are stowed during the launch and are deployed in
the orbit in order to meet the constraints imposed by the launch vehicle. In order to perform deployment in orbit, a
hold-down and release mechanism is employed. The solar array deployment mechanism is identical to earlier
IRS missions.
The deployed SAR antenna has dimensions of 6.29 m x 2.09 m x 0.220 m. It consists of three panels out of which
one is rigidly attached to the triangular structure. In the launch configuration, the deployable panels are folded over
the triangular structure and are held by using a hold-down mechanism. In orbit, both deployable panels are
released sequentially and deployed. The mass of each panel is about 290 kg.
EPS (Electrical Power Subsystem): The EPS consists of solar arrays for power generation, chemical battery for
power storage and power electronics for power conditioning and distribution. It is designed to meet the 6 hour and
18 hour orbit illumination conditions, the large power requirement of the SAR payload and the solar eclipse
conditions during the summer solstice.
The solar array consists of six panels arranged in two wings with three panels in each wing in the positive roll and
the negative roll axes. The array consists of multi-junction cells connected in series and parallel for optimum
performance. The solar array drive assembly helps in compensating the roll bias ( 36) given during payload
operation and also aids in obtaining more generation near pole transit. The energy storage system for RISAT-1
employs a single NiH2 battery of 70 AH capacity to meet the peak load requirement and also the eclipse
The EPS uses a single-bus system operating at 70 V, and the configuration is arrived at to meet all the
requirements of users and interfaces. During the sunlit period, the array is regulated to 70 V and the battery gets
charged. A BDR (Battery Discharge Regulator) supports power to the bus when the load demand exceeds the
array generation during payload operation and eclipse conditions by regulating the bus to 70 V. The bus voltage
selection is mainly driven by the payload requirement. The single bus of 70 V is fully protected against over
voltage, over current and is single-point failure proof. The bus is distributed to all users through fuses, centrally
located in fuse-distribution packages. Software logic (software resident in the on-board controller) enhances the
safety of the power system.
OBC (On-board Computer): To minimize power, weight and volume, the spacecraft functions like commanding,
housekeeping (telemetry), attitude and orbit control, thermal management, sensor data processing, etc., have
been integrated into a single package called OBC, which also implements the MIL STD 1553B protocol for
interfacing with other subsystems of the spacecraft (Figure 4).

Figure 4: Block diagram of the OBC (image credit: ISRO)

The use of MIL STD 1553B interfaces between the OBC and the other subsystems greatly decreases the volume
and mass of cabling, and the associated connectors. The OBC system is realized with the functions of sensor
electronics, command processing, telemetry and housekeeping, attitude and orbit control and thermal
management. Besides, the OBC interfaces with power, telemetrytelecommand (TMTC; RF) for command and
telemetry, sensors, heaters, thrusters and reaction wheels through special control logic.
AOCS (Attitude and Orbit Control Subsystem): The integrated AOCS specifications during imaging are as follows:
pointing: 0.05 (3 ); drift rate: 3.0 x 10 -4 /s. The AOCS for RISAT-1 is configured with 4 sun sensor,
magnetometer, IRU (Inertial Reference Unit), star sensor, earth sensor, DSS (Digital Sun Sensor) and SPSS
(Solar Panel Sun Sensor). Actuation is provided by eight 11 N canted thrusters (mono propellant hydrazine system
operating in blow-down mode) with two-axis canting from + pitch axis for acquisition and OM operation, one (1)
central 11 N thruster for OM operation, 4 reaction wheels (of capacity 0.3 Nm torque and 50.0 Nms) mounted in
tetrahedral configuration about the pitch axis, and magnetic torquers of 60.0 Am 2 capacity for momentum
dumping. The sun sensors, star sensors and magnetometer provide attitude data in the form of absolute attitude
errors. The magnetometer, 4 sun sensor and temperature sensor data are processed in the OBC. All AOCS
software modules are implemented in the OBC.
RCS (Reaction Control Subsystem): The RCS comprises a propellant tank, thrusters (9 of 11 N), latch valves, fill
and drain/vent valves, pressure transducers, system filters, thermocouples, flow control valves and titanium tubes
to connect all the reaction control elements. A block schematic of the RCS is given in Figure 5. One central 11 N
thruster is meant for orbit control and the remaining eight 11 N thrusters for attitude control.

Figure 5: Block diagram of the RCS (image credit: ISRO)

TT&C subsystem: The RF communications for RISAT-1 consists of two chains of PLL (Phase Locked Loop)
coherent S-band transponder connected to a common antenna system. The basic configuration is identical to the
ones employed in earlier IRS missions. The TC demodulation scheme is PSK (Phase Shift Keying)/PCM (Pulse
Code Modulation) with a date rate of 4 kbit/s. The transponder consists of a receiving and transmitting system and
can operate in either coherent or non-coherent mode. The range and two-way Doppler data from the transponder
are useful for orbit determination.
PDHS (Payload Data Handling Subsystem): The RISAT-1 payload data need to be transmitted either in real-time
or in playback mode depending upon the data rates at different modes. The data-handling system of RISAT-1 is
configured with two formatters for each of the SAR payload receivers respectively (Figure 7).
These are high data rate formatters for different data rates of payload with memories for burst data formatting. The
systems have been realized with FPGAs (Field-Programmable Gate Arrays) and the design is optimized for mass,
power and volume. Whenever the data rate of the SAR payload and BDH overhead together is greater than 640
Mbit/s, real-time transmission is not possible and the data is recorded in SSR. The recorded data can be played
back later. The PDHS can operate in real-time, real-time stretch mode, record, and playback modes.

Figure 6: Photo of the payload data formatters (image credit: ISRO)

SSR (Solid State Recorder): The SSR has a capacity of 300 Gbit, realized with six memory boards of 50 Gbit
capacity each. The memory boards, by default are configured into two partitions each of 150 Gbit with three
memory boards per partition. The SSR has two control units for configuring and controlling the internal operations.
The controller has two separate 32-bit parallel interface with memory boards. The default configuration is for two
partitions; however, the system can be configured for single partition with allocation of all the memory boards to
the selected partition. The SSR is able to manage up to 32 different files for each input port. The memory
management guarantees the usage of all good devices by automatic configuration after the diagnostics
command is issued.
X-band subsystem: The X-band RF is required to accept the payload data from the baseband data handling
system, modulate the above data on two X-band carriers and transmit the same to the ground after suitable
amplification and filtering.
The SAR payload of RISAT-1, when operated in dual polarization imaging mode, generates data at the rate of 640
Mbit/s and this needs to be transmitted to the ground stations. Data rates up to 170 Mbit/s have been transmitted
in X-band using a shaped beam antenna in earlier missions like IRS-1C/1D and PAA (Phased Array Antenna) in
Technology experiment satellite. In order to meet the high data rate transmission requirement in X-band, QPSK
(Quadrature Phase Shift Keying) modulation with frequency reuse by polarization discrimination is implemented.
In the data transmission for RISAT-1, half the data, i.e. 320 Mbit/s will be transmitted in RHCP (Right-Hand
Circular Polarization) and the remaining 320 Mbit/s in the LHCP (Left-Hand Circular Polarization); two identical
chains operating at X-band are used to transmit 640 Mbit/s of payload data. The carrier generation section, QPSK
modulator section, filter units, and the selection of the main and redundant chain units are identical in all the
chains, as the frequency of operation and modulation schemes is identical. Both the chains have end-to-end
PAA (Phased Array Antenna): The spherical PAA has radiating elements distributed almost uniformly on a
hemispherical surface. It generates a beam in the required direction by switching ON only those elements which
can contribute significantly towards the beam direction. It is proposed to use the 64 element array.
Operationally, PAA consists of two identical phased arrays, one operating in RHCP and the other operating in
LHCP, and located in the same hardware. On the spherical dome, an element is located at a defined location. A
waveguide radiating element fed by a septum polarizer is planned and this has two ports, one for RHCP and the
other for LHCP. The radiating element is optimized to provide the required isolation (better than 25 dB) between
the two polarizations to minimize the interference.
The RHCP and LHCP ports of the phased array are connected to two separate sets of power dividers and MMIC
(Monolithic Microwave Integrated Circuit) amplifiers. A common beam steering electronics controls the switch
position and phase setting for all the MMIC amplifiers. The data transmission chain is given in Figure 7.

Figure 7: Schematic view of the data flow from SAR payload to the PAA (Phased Array Antenna), image credit:
SPS (Satellite Pointing Subsystem): The SPS for RISAT-1 comprises a 10-channel C/A code GPS receiver at L1
(1575.42 MHz) frequency. SPS is designed for computing the state vector of the high-dynamic platform. The SPS
will have a full-chain (end-to-end) redundancy. Each chain consists of a receiving antenna, low-noise amplifier, RF
amplifier and power divider in L-band followed by a 10-channel and 8-channel GPS receiver with a MIL 1553B
interface. Each GPS receiver consists of two highly dynamic GPS RCE (Receiver Core Engine) modules to
compute the state vectors, one receiver chain will be active at a time.
The SPS is placed on the RISAT-1 spacecraft to track the GPS signals continuously. It requires an antenna system
with hemispherical radiation coverage to receive the circularly polarized GPS signal from the navigational
satellites. A micro-strip patch antenna is used for this application.
Spacecraft launch mass

1858 kg, including ~ 950 kg of SAR payload mass

AOCS (Attitude Orbit Control Subsystem) - Pointing accuracy: 0.05

- Drift rate: 5.0 x 105 /s
- Attitude knowledge: 0.02

- Solar array generating 2.2 kW,

- 1 NiH2 battery set with a capacity of 70 Ah
- Max power handling capacity: 4.3 kW
- 70 V bus / 42 V bus

Design life

5 years

RF communications

TT&C data in S-band

Payload data transmission in X-band at 640 Mbit/s
SSR (Solid State Recorder) of 300 Gbit


SSO, altitude = 536 km, inclination = 97.55, LTAN = 6:00 hr and 18 hr

Payload operations duration (duty cycle)

12 minutes/orbit

Table 1: Summary of mission parameters

In the non-observation support mode, the active antenna is pointed in the nadir direction. Prior to each observation
sequence, the spacecraft is roll-tilted to an angle of 34. This means observations can be performed on either
side of the ground track (an advantage for event monitoring support). In addition, the spacecraft offers the
capability of pitch steering of up to 13 in support of high-resolution imaging (HRS mode). RISAT features also
the capability of yaw-steering to minimize the Earth rotation effects.
The new technologies in RISAT include: 160 x 4 Mbit/s data handling system, 50 Nms reaction wheels (with a

torquing capability of 0.3 Nm), a SAR antenna deployment mechanism, and a phased array communication
antenna with dual polarization.

Figure 8: Blow-up illustration of the RISAT-1 spacecraft (image credit: ISRO)

Figure 9: Alternate view of the deployed spacecraft (image credit: ISRO)

Figure 10: Photo of RISAT-1 with one of its solar panel wings deployed (image credit: ISRO)

Figure 11: Photo of RISAT-1 in stowed launch configuration (image credit: ISRO)

Launch: RISAT-1 was launched on April 26, 2012 from SDSC (Satish Dhawan Space Center) at SHAR (Sriharikota
in Andhra Pradesh, on the east cost of India) on the PSLV-C19 vehicle. On this flight, the PSLV-XL version is used
with six extended strap-on motors (PSOM-XL), each carrying 12 tons of solid propellant. 7) 8) - PSLV-C19 was the
first PSLV-XL to be launched from the FLP (First Launch Pad) of SDSC .
PSLV has three variants, namely, PSLV the generic version with six regular strap-on motors (S9), PSLVCA the
core alone version without strap-on motors and the more powerful PSLV-XL with S12 strap-on motors (S12 is the
extended version of the regular S9 strap-ons in terms of length and propellant loading). The current payload
capability of the PSLV-XL vehicle is 1750 kg in 600 km SSPO (Sun-Synchronous Polar Orbit), and 1425 kg for the
Sub-GTO (Sub Geosynchronous Transfer Orbit) of 284 km x 21,000 km. The PSLV-C19/RISAT-1 mission
employed the PSLV-XL configuration of the launch vehicle with its upper stage (PS4) loaded with 2.5 tons of liquid
propellant to carry the heaviest satellite (1858 kg) ever entrusted to PSLV. 9)
Orbit planning: The initial mass budget for RISAT-1 was 1725 kg aiming a SSPO, 627 km above the Earth. Later,
the satellite mass was respecified to 1858 kg. The corresponding capability of the PSLV-XL was assessed for
various feasible orbits and it was decided to inject the satellite in 480 km circular orbit with an inclination
corresponding to 536 km SSPO mission, so that the orbit could be raised to 536 km using the spacecraft
propulsion system (Ref. 9).
Orbit: Sun-synchronous near-circular dawn-dusk orbit, altitude = 536 km, inclination = 97.552, period = 95.49
minutes, LTAN (Local Time on Ascending Node) at 6 hours and 18 hours. The revisit period is 25 days with an
advantage of a12 day inner cycle in the CRS (Coarse Resolution ScanSAR) mode. Global coverage is achieved
twice in the revisit cycle, once by a set of descending passes and next by a set of ascending passes, as SAR is a
microwave payload with no illumination constraints.
RF communications: An onboard data storage capability of 300 Gbit is provided. The data downlink is in X-band
with a maximum data rate of 640 Mbit/s on two polarizations (320 Mbit/s RHCP and 320 Mbit/s LHCP) modulated
on the same carrier (QPSK modulation).
The ISTRAC (ISRO Telemetry, Tracking and Command Network) is providing data acquisition and TT&C services
through an integrated network of ground stations at Bangalore, Lucknow, Sriharikota, Port Blair,
Thiruvananthapuram, Mauritius, Bearslake (Russia), Brunei and Biak (Indonesia) with a multimission SCC
(Spacecraft Control Center) at Bangalore, India.

Figure 12: Alternate view of the deployed RISAT-1 spacecraft (image credit: ISRO) 10)

Status of mission:
The RISAT-1 spacecraft and its payload are operating nominally in 2014. Data can be ordered through NRSC or
Antrix Corporation. 11)
- On April 2, 2013, RISAT was operated in spotlight mode for the first time.
- The antenna pattern was updated in Sept-Oct 2013.
- For the first time, RISAT-1 could provide polarimetric data in Spotlight and in ScanSAR mode. In addition, RISAT
-1 demonstrated polarimetric observations at multiple incidence angles.

Figure 13: RISAT-1 Spotlight image of Salt Lake Township, Kolkatta (Calcutta), India (image credit: ISRO/SAC)

Figure 14: Point target response of RISAT-1 Spotlight image of Figure 13 (image credit: ISRO/SAC)

Figure 15: RISAT-1 hybrid polarimetric image of Jaipur, India, in ScanSAR mode (image credit: ISRO/SAC)
The RISAT-1 spacecraft and its payload are operating nominally in 2013. 12)

Figure 16: RISAT-1 coverage in the period July 1, 2012 to Feb. 8, 2013 (image credit: ISRO, Ref. 12)
According to Figure 16, the RISAT-1 SAR imagery was collected since July 1, 2012 (also during the calibration
phase until October 2012).
- Initial characterization completed including coverage over the Amazon region for calibration
- Data being regularly received at Shadnagar GS (Ground Station) of NRSC (National Remote Sensing Center)
and successful test download at Troms, Norway
- Early valuation studies completed, users have demonstrated polarimetry applications with RISAT-1
- FRS, MRS & CRS mode data released to users.

Figure 17: Sivaganga area of Tamil Nadu, India, showing Samba rice area (cyan color), image credit: ISRO (Ref.
Legend to Figure 17: The image is a two date composite of Oct. 25 and Nov. 19, 2012 with the SAR instrument of
RISAT-1 observing in MRS (Medium Resolution ScanSAR) operating mode.
Operational status of the mission in October 2012: After calibration and validation of the image products, the
RISAT-1 image products were released for global users from October 19, 2012 onwards. They are available from
NRSC (National Remote Sensing Center), Hyderabad. Typical images, obtained by RISAT-1, are shown in Figure
18. They demonstrate the quality of the RISAT-1 SAR images in a nutshell (Ref. 19).

Figure 18: Typical images obtained by RISAT-1 (image credit: ISRO, Ref. 19)

Figure 19: NRSC Ground Station in Antartica: captured by RISAT-1 in Dual Pol (HH+HV), image credit: ISRO
During IOT (In-Orbit Test), azimuth antenna patterns of the RISAT active antenna were measured through a
ground receiver. Figure 20 shows close agreement of the measured pattern with the predicted antenna pattern. It
is to be noted that during integrated testing, the antenna patterns were predicted based on the limited NF (Near
Field) measurements. During IOT only, for the first time far-field antenna patterns were measured. Furthermore,
radiometric correction using predicted elevation pattern could result in excellent radiometric balance over the
required swath within 0.5 dB. Both the above observations led to confidence in achieving calibration of the
RISATSAR system using a single corner reflector (Ref. 19).

Figure 20: Close match of measured active antenna patterns during IOT with predicted ones (image credit:
The performance of calibration is shown in Figure 21 for an FRS-1 mode image over the Amazon rainforest. The
reported average sigma naught ( ) over the Amazon rainforest is 7.5 dB. The calibrated average estimated
from RISAT-1 is close to the reported number.

Figure 21: Estimated average over the Amazon rainforest in FRS-1 mode (image credit: ISRO, Ref. 19)
Eclipse operations: Due to the dawn/dusk orbit of RISAT-1, the orbital eclipse phase is only seasonal (May 2
August 12, 2012) with a maximum eclipse duration of about 22 minutes (around June 23, when the sun
declination was 23.5); this is unlike the other IRS missions of ISRO where an eclipse is encountered in every
orbit. Regular monitoring and management of the solar array, the battery resources, and the thermal control of the
on-board systems were carried out to match with the variable eclipse periods and seasonal variations. Daily
uploads of the eclipse start time and duration to the on-board systems was necessary for the initiation of the
SADA (Solar Array Drive Assembly) auto capture in case of panel non-tracking during the sunlit period. During an
orbital eclipse period, the SAR payload operation is avoided as the full load of the payload along with the
mainframe is required to be supported only by the battery (Ref. 29).
In early May 2012, the RISAT-1 SAR instrument observed the first imagery over India (Figure 22). 13) 14)

Figure 22: RISAT-1 image showing part of Mumbai as observed on May 4, 2012 (image credit: ISRO)
The RISAT-1 SAR payload commissioning-related exercises started from 29 April 2012 onwards after the
mission orbit of 536 km was reached. Unlike other satellites, for the first time in RISAT-1, a single X-band carrier
was being used to transmit V and H polarization data in RHCP and LHCP modes. Thus, systematic
characterization of the ground reception systems was carried out with data handling tests using RHCP mode
alone in one pass, LHCP mode alone in another pass and then both together in yet another pass. The SAR
payload commissioning started in a planned manner by operating the payload in FRS-1 (Fine Resolution
Stripmap-1) mode with single beam operation and then MRS/CRS (Medium and Coarse Resolution ScanSAR)
modes with multiple beam operations (Ref. 29).
The near beam(s) and far beam(s) energizing exercises were conducted for various modes and their power
profiles were characterized in-orbit. About 27 test cases, including on-board calibration operations were exercised
during the in-orbit commissioning of SAR payload. The SSR (Solid State Recorder) was also commissioned with
recording and downloading of the PN sequence, followed by imaging sessions that required SSR recording.
On April 27-28, 2012 the spacecraft's propulsion system was used in 4 orbital maneuvers to raise the altitude to
its nominal 536 km near-circular orbit. 15) 16) - The launch of PSLV-C19 had placed RISAT-1 into a required
intermittent polar orbit of 470 km x 480 km (in view of the large spacecraft mass of 1858 kg). The planned 4 orbital
maneuvers used 37 kg of on-board fuel to reach the nominal orbit of 536.6 km
Both the star trackers were switched ON and normalized to get star updates. The GOODS (GPS-based On-board
Orbit Determination System) was initialized after confirmation of the SPS (Satellite Positioning System) tracking
the satellite. Thermal heaters and auto temperature control limits were fine-tuned with respect to on-orbit
configuration. After confirming star sensor updates, the spacecraft was put in normal mode with star sensor in
loop followed later by star Kalman filter mode. The safety features on-board the spacecraft hardware safe mode,
wheel over-speed logic, spurious speed logic, auto reconfiguration logic for wheels, failure detection logic of the
solar array drive, battery temperature control, etc. were enabled.
In orbit 2, and with the corresponding network visibilities from Svalbard, Lucknow, Bangalore, Mauritius and
Trolls, further activities for normalization of the spacecraft were carried out. Wheels were switched ON and run at
nominal control speed (3500 rpm) to get a better dynamic friction estimation, which was subsequently changed to
the recommended nominal 1500 rpm in orbit 3.

Immediately after the spacecraft injection into its polar Sun-Synchronous Orbit, the automatic deployment of solar
panels and SAR antenna deployments were carried out by the on-board timers triggered by the launcher and the
initial acquisition was initiated over the Troll ground station near the South Pole using the pre-loaded attitude
quaternions, followed by three-axis attitude acquisition using ground commands (Ref. 29).

Sensor complement:
The payload consists of the single SAR instrument. The principal motivation behind this development is to provide
SAR imagery which will complement and supplement the optical imagery of ISRO spacecraft. During monsoon
periods and also for the regions which are perennially under cloud cover, RISAT will be the sole source of data
when operational. The choice of the C-band frequency of operation and the RISAT-1 SAR capability of
simultaneous imaging in both co- and cross-polarization, will enable monitoring in a wide field of applications
such as: vegetation, agriculture, forestry, soil moisture, geology, sea ice, coastal processes, and man-made
object identification. In addition, RISAT will also be used for disaster monitoring services. 17) 18)
The RISAT-SAR instrument supports a variety of resolution and swath requirements. Both conventional stripmap
and ScanSAR modes are supported, with dual polarization mode of operation. Additionally a quad polarization
stripmap mode is provided for availing additional resource classification. In all these modes, resolutions from 3 to
50 m can be achieved with swath ranging from 25 to 223 km. On experimental basis, a sliding spotlight mode is
also available. In all the imaging modes, a novel polarimetry mode called circular or hybrid polarimetry can be
exercised seamlessly. The system is capable of imaging on either side of the flight track depending upon prior
programming of the satellite.
The payload is based on active antenna array technology. Crucial technology elements like C-band MMICs, TR
module and miniaturized power supplies have already been developed in India. A pulsed mode near-field test
facility has also been developed in-house in order to characterize the payload in the integration laboratory itself. 19)

The RISAT-SAR instrument, designed and developed at ISRO/SAC (ISRO/Space Applications Center),
Ahmedabad, India. The RISAT-SAR is configured on a dual receiver concept providing identical resolution in both
simultaneous co- and cross-polarization operation support modes (Table 3). The RISAT-SAR instrument consists
of two broad segments, namely:
- The deployable SAR antenna subsystem
- The RF and baseband subsystems mounted on the satellite deck.

Figure 23: Illustration of the RISAT deployed spacecraft, antenna and detailed view of a tile (image credit:
SAR antenna subsystem: The Earth-facing side of the active phased array antenna is a broadband dual polarized
microstrip radiating aperture. The antenna consists of three deployable panels, each panel of 2 m x 2 m in size.
Each panel in turn consists four tiles of size 1 m x 1 m with 24 x 24 radiating elements. In each tile, all the 24 x 24
radiating elements are grouped into 24 groups, each group consisting of 24 elements spread along azimuth
directions which are fed by two stripline distribution networks feeding for V and H polarization. Each of these
groups of 24 radiating elements are catered to by two functionally separate T/R (Transmit/Receive) modules,
feeding two separate distribution networks for V and H operation with the same radiating patches.
The peak RF power, fed by each T/R module, is 10 W at a duty cycle of ~7-8%. The two functionally separate T/R
modules are mounted in the same physical enclosure, sharing the same power supply and T/R control
electronics. This sort of grouping also enables phase steering in the elevation direction. All the 24 T/R modules
on one tile are controlled by one TCU (Tile Control Unit). The T/R modules and TCU are mounted on the backside
of the antenna. The mechanical configuration of the complete antenna, grouped into three panels per twelve tiles,
and a detailed view of the basic tile structure, are shown in Figure 23.

An extensive onboard calibration facility is provided with the help of a set of CAL switches and dedicated
distribution networks for calibrating transmit and receive paths of each of the T/R modules separately.
Swath coverage

Selectable within 107 659 km off-nadir distance on either side

Incidence angle

12 55


Polarization mode



Single Pol
Dual Pol

Circular (Hybrid) Polarimetry

Rx: V and H (Experimental)

Quad Pol

1 m(Azimuth) x 0.67 m (Range) resolution, 10 km x 10 km (10 x

100 km Experimental) Spot
Min o = -16 dB


3 m(Azimuth) x 2 m (Range) resolution, 25 km swath

Min o = -17 dB



3 m(Azimuth) x 4 m (Range)

9 m(Azimuth) x 4 m (Range)

resolution, 25 km swath

resolution, 25 km swath

Min o = -20 dB

o = -19dB

21-23 m (Azimuth) x 8 m (Range) resolution, 115 km swath

Min o = -17 dB


41-55 m (Azimuth) x 8 m (Range) resolution, 223 km swath

Min o = -17 dB

Table 2: RISAT-1 image quality parameters


5.350 GHz (C-band)

SAR antenna type

Printed antenna

Antenna size

6 m (along-track) x 2 m (cross-track)

Side lobe level

-13 dB (azimuth), -13 dB (elevation)

No. of TR modules

288, each with 10 W peak power

Pulse width

20/10 s

Average DC Input power

1.8-3.9 kW (average DC input power)

Operating mode





Chirp bandwidth

225 MHz

75 MHz

37.5 MHz

18.75 MHz

Sampling rate

250 MHz

83.3 MHz

41.67 MHz

20.83 MHz

3500 Hz 200 Hz

3000 Hz 200 Hz

3000 Hz 200

3000 Hz 200 Hz

PRF (Pulse Repetition

Data quantization

2/3 BAQ

2/3/4/5/6 bit BAQ

Data rate (max)

@ 3 bit BAQ for HRS

739 Mbit/s (single


556 Mbit/s (single


@ 6 bit BAQ for rest of modes

1478 Mbit/s (dual


1112 Mbit/s (dual


564 Mbit/s

142 Mbit/s (single

284 Mbit/s (dual

Table 3: Hardware and imaging parameters of the SAR instrument

RF and baseband subsystems: Two separate chains of receiver and data acquisition and compression system
cater to simultaneous operation in two polarizations. However, the feeder SSPA, the frequency generator, and the
digital chirp generator are common to both of the polarization chains. All subsystems are configured with 100%
redundancy. The feeder SSPA transmits a chirped pulse of 20 s to the active antenna during the transmit period.
The flexible digital chirp generator provides the expanded pulses of four different bandwidths of 225, 75, 37.5 and
18.75 MHz for operation in the various imaging modes. The analog base band output is fed to frequency generator
unit, which in turn generates chirped carrier at 5.35 GHz. The chirped carrier is amplified through feeder SSPA and
fed to TR modules. The frequency generator generates IF, LO and frequency reference for data acquisition
Its configuration of dedicating separate set of power amplifiers for V and H polarization transmission, has made it
a unique spaceborne Hybrid Polarimetric Sensor. The other operational spaceborne SAR instruments like on
Radarsat-2, TerraSAR-X or COSMO Skymed, are equipped with specific linear polarimetric mode which is usually
operated within the restricted coverage of 20 to 30 incidence angle, because of doubling of PRF (Pulse
Repetition Frequency) and usually a specific imaging mode is dedicated for linear polarimetric operation.

However, in the hybrid polarimetric operation of RISAT-1, signal is transmitted in circular polarization and the
received signal is digitized in two orthogonal polarization chains. This ensures conventional PRF of operation
without any increase in data rate. Hybrid polarization in RISAT-1 can be activated for any imaging mode
(spotlight/stripmap/ScanSAR) and can be operated over any incidence angle ranging from 12 to 55.

Figure 24: Configuration of RF and baseband system (image credit: ISRO)

The combined signal from active antenna is down-converted to IF which is subsequently I-Q detected prior to
digitization. No provision of onboard range compression is kept and range compression needs to be carried out
on ground. The baseband I-Q detected receive signal is suitably band limited to maximize the SNR by a set of four
selectable I-Q filters. The first stage of the data acquisition unit is an 8 bit digitizer. RISAT-SAR provides the unique
option of user choice of a seamless BAQ (Block Adaptive Quantization) option from 2-6 bits depending upon the
application requirements. Each of the I and Q channels are separately digitized, compressed and formatted with
identical repetition of common auxiliary parameters and data is taken out from each I-Q channel as 16 bit parallel
stream (quantized data) at a constant rate of 31.25 MHz. The choice of antenna size put a constraint in the
selection of the PRF (Pulse within a range of 2800-3700 Hz, a consequence from both the Doppler sampling
requirement and range ambiguity considerations. 20) 21)

Figure 25: Illustration of RISAT-SAR constituent subsystems (image credit: ISRO) 22)

Operating modes of RISAT-SAR:

The RISAT-SAR system is designed to provide a constant swath for all elevation pointing and almost nearconstant minimum radar cross section performance. The following operational modes are defined:
FRS-1 (Fine Resolution Stripmap-1): 3 m x 2 m (Az x Range) resolution, 25 km swath, co- and/or cross
polarization and hybrid polarimetry.
FRS-2 (Fine Resolution Stripmap-2): 6 m x 4 m (Az x Range) resolution, 25 km swath, Quad polarization;
3 m x 4 m (Az x Range) resolution, 25 km swath in hybrid polarimetry.
MRS (Medium Resolution ScanSAR): 25 m x 8 m (Az x Range) resolution 115 km swath, co- and/or cross
polarization or in hybrid polarimetry. The MRS mode is configured with 6 antenna beam pointings in elevation.
CRS (Coarse Resolution ScanSAR): 50 m x 8 m (Az x Range) resolution, 223 km swath, co and/or cross
polarization or in hybrid polarimetry. The CRS mode uses 12 beams in the elevation.
HRS (High Resolution Spotlight): < 2 m resolution, a spotlight target of 10 km (azimuth) x 10 km (ground range ),
in co- and/or cross polarization or in hybrid polarimetry.

HRS features an experimental capability to increase the azimuth extent up to 100 km. However, all the images are
available in single-look only except in CRS mode which offers up to 2 range looks.
In the ScanSAR mode, the antenna beam pointing switches electronically in the elevation direction to cover
adjacent sub-swaths (swath covered by individual beams) in regular intervals of time, referred to as burst time.
RISAT-SAR observations may be performed on either side of the ground track (left or right looking capability) by
roll-tilting of the antenna by 36. However, this tilting feature is limited to one side per orbit.
RISAT-SAR operates with basic elevation beam width of 2.2 -1.5 over a total ground distance of 550 km starting
from off nadir distance of 107 km. Within this 550 km operating ground range, the image products will be fully
qualified. The off-nadir look angle is 11.5-49.5.

Figure 26: Illustration of the RISAT-SAR imaging modes (image credit: ISRO, Ref. 19)

Figure 27: Schematic configuration of the RISAT-SAR instrument (image credit: ISRO)

Integrated SAR antenna:

The antenna is a major RISAT element supporting a total of 126 beams. The accuracy of pointing and knowledge
of the pattern has a definite bearing on the radiometric performance of the RISAT-SAR instrument and the overall
mapping requirements. Hence, an extensive laboratory antenna pattern measurement program is undertaken
prior to integration. The measurement concept is based on the PNF (Planar Near-Field) concept as shown in
Figure 32. This involves the transmit and receive pattern measurement in both polarizations using the RISAT-SAR
The measurement will be carried out under zero-G conditions. The proposed measurement scheme will ensure
the mechanical references are kept the same for the 4 different pattern (Tx-V, Tx-H, Rx-V, Rx-H) measurements.
The scanner is basically capable of scanning a probe in x-y plane of the clean scan area of 8 m x 4 m. However,
only a limited z-axis scan capability of 20 cm is provided. In realistic terms, the scan plane has to be made parallel
to the actual antenna plane. A laser tracking instrument is being used to provide the plane information of the
antenna plane.
The Earth-facing side of the active antenna is a broadband dual polarized microstrip radiating aperture. The active

antenna system consists of three deployable panels, each of 2 m x 2 m size. Each of the panels is subdivided into
four tiles of 1 m x 1 m in size (Figure 28). Each tile consists of 24 dual polarized linear arrays, aligned along the
azimuth direction. Each of the linear arrays, of length 1 m, is basically composed of 20 equi-spaced microstrip
patches, EM coupled by two orthogonal strip line networks (Figure 29). Each of these linear arrays is fed by
functionally two separate TR modules feeding two separate distribution networks for V and H operation with the
same radiating patches. The outer duroid layer also doubles up as a radome and the patches are printed on the
inner side of the outer duroid layer. A glass-wool blanket on the antenna isolates it from heating by the Earth as
well as solar radiation or from cooling in the absence of solar radiation, when the antenna points away from solar

Figure 28: Organization of RISAT-1 antenna with detailed view of a tile 8image credit: ISRO)

Figure 29: Typical configuration of microstrip patch used in RISAT-1 (image credit: ISRO)
The printed antenna is grown on one side of a CFRP (Carbon Fiber Reinforced Plastic) honeycomb plate. The rest
of the active antenna electronics is mounted on the other side of this plate. Fast beam switching and beamwidth
control is achieved by electronic elevation beam control in the active antenna. Sixty-one (61) beam-pointing
positions have been identified to enable imaging anywhere over 550 km region on one side of the subsatellite
track, with the best possible performance. Each beam is centered at off-nadir intervals of ~ 9 km. Two additional
beams with no pointing (0 with respect to antenna orientation angle, i.e. 36) are defined for two halves of the
antenna, 6 m x 1 m each. Therefore, there are 63 beam positions defined for imaging on each side of the
subsatellite track. As a result, a total of 126 beams are used for imaging on either side of the track. An option of
yaw rotation for leftright imaging would have reduced the requirement of the number of beams by half. But
operationally, this option would have an implication on the time for switching to imaging on either side of the track.
The active beam-width in elevation direction is controlled such that for each beam a 25 km swath with near
identical performance is achieved irrespective of the elevation pointing. Typical performance over different
off-nadir distances is shown in Figure 30. The TR-modules are switched off in the width direction, equally from the
outer edges of the two adjacent tiles to control elevation beam width between 2.48 and 1.67. Such a strategy has

been adopted for elevation beam control for easing out thermal management.
The peak RF power, fed by each TR module, is 10 W at a duty cycle of ~ 7%. These two functionally separate TR
modules are housed in two different physical enclosures, sharing the same power supply and TR control
electronics (TRC). The basic architecture of a TR module is shown in Figure 31. Phase and amplitude control of
the TR module is achieved by 6 bit phase shifter and 6 bit attenuator, which in turn are shared by both transmit
and receive paths. Each of the TR modules is extensively characterized over ambient temperature from 10C to
60C. The LNA (Low Noise Amplifier) of the TR module is protected by a PIN diode switch. At the circulator output a
coupler provides the required calibration stimuli. On the tile, two rows of TR modules, each consisting of 12
modules, feed alternate antenna arrays.

Figure 30: Minimum performance over the swath for FRS-1 mode operation (image credit: ISRO)

Figure 31: Block diagram of a TR module for RISAT-1 (image credit: ISRO)
Both the TR modules (H and V) and TRC are powered by a miniaturized pulsed EPC (Electronic Power
Conditioner) called PCDU (Power Conditioning and Processing Unit). An ASIC (Application Specific Integrated
Circuit)-based TRC controls both H and V TR modules and the PCPU. Power sequencing is such that both
transmit and receive paths are switched on by power pulsing only, for the required duration in every PRI (Pulse
Repetition Interval), in order to conserve power. It not only sequences the smooth operation of TR modules, but
also provides requisite temperature compensation of phase and amplitude variation from stored characterization
table. A thermistor voltage from the TR modules provides the requisite input for appropriate reading of LUT (LookUp Table).
All 24 TR modules on a tile are controlled by one TCU (Tile Control Unit). It provides synchronization of the TR
modules with a master reference. It also provides requisite amplitude and phase correction required on each TR
module for appropriate collimation for a particular beam pointing and pattern weighting. No weighting is possible
to be provided during transmission as all the TR modules operate in saturation condition. Only on reception, is the
weighting applied.

Figure 32: Mechanical configuration of the planar near-field measurement setup (image credit: ISRO)

Payload control and management:

The RISAT-SAR payload is controlled by an array of controllers organized in a three-tier hierarchy as depicted in
Figure 33. At the top level of the hierarchy, the complete payload is controlled by a central computer, referred to as
PLC (Payload Controller), which interfaces with the RF and baseband subsystems, namely the DCG (Digital Chirp
Generator), the V and H receivers, the FG (Frequency Generator), Feeder SSPA (SolidState Power Amplifier), CAL
(Calibration Switch Matrix) and four DACSs (Data Acquisition and Compression Subsystems). PLC is an
autonomous controller with only spacecraft interface being DC Power and a 1553 interface with the BMU (Bus
Management Unit) of the spacecraft.
The bit parallel data at the DACU output is directly interfaced with spacecraft's BDH (Baseband Data Handling)
unit for further formatting, recording, encryption and transmission. The payload controller in turn controls the active
antenna via the tile control units residing in each TCU (Tile Control Unit). The PLC essentially transmits the beam
definition command and switching sequence definitions to the active antenna. The TCU controls the beam
pointing and the beam setting in a tile via the T/R controller. It also sequences the TRM (T/R Module) power on/off
command. The TCU transmits T/R module specific beam shifting, beam weighting and residual corporate feed
mismatch compensation related phase and the amplitude coefficients to specific T/R modules. Each of the T/R
modules is controlled by corresponding TRC (T/R Controller). Each TRC controls two independent T/R modules
where each is dedicated for a polarization and one PCPU (Power Conditioning and Processing Unit) powering the
TRC and two T/R modules. The TRC contains in its memory all the temperature related phase and amplitude
calibration data for each T/R module and imparts the corresponding corrections from instantaneous
measurement of ambient temperature.

Figure 33: Block diagram of the three-tier control of RISAT (image credit: ISRO)

Advanced Digital Subsystems (technology introduction):

The introduction of advanced and new digital technology has contributed significantly in the optimization of the
various units of the RISAT-SAR (in size, mass, and power). Most of these digital subsystems, except for the active
antenna tile digital electronics, have already been test flown for performance evaluation (on the airborne SAR of
ISRO; test flight in November/December 2005).
Apart from design and development of an active antenna based SAR system, the major achievement of the RISAT
project has been extensive industrial participation in developing critical technological elements needed for the
payload. The TR modules, along with all the MMICs (Microwave Monolithic Integrated Circuit) associated with it
have been designed and produced in India. 23) 24)
The miniaturized pulsed EPC (Electric Power Conditioner) for powering the TRMs (T/R module), featuring three
different HMCs and planar transformer, has been a feat of Indian industry. The printed antenna aperture has been
designed in ISRO and produced by the industry of India. The ASIC, meant for controlling active array antenna
elements, has been designed in-house. The notable achievement of RISAT project has been establishment of a
novel near field antenna facility, based on time segregation of requisite signal from unwanted echoes, has been
designed in-house and built in cooperation of Indian industry, for characterization of the active antenna.
The SAR antenna employs an active phased array radar because of it's capability in terms of beam steering, multibeam operations, large bandwidth and high efficiency. Electronic beam steering requires the loading of digital
amplitude and phase values to the array of TRMs (Transmit/Receive Modules). For a large array of elements,
distributed digital controllers are being used to load the beam characterization, timing control and serial
communication. The hierarchy of the distributed controllers for the active phased array antenna of RISAT is shown
in Figure 38 with three levels of hierarchy. The PLC (Payload Controller) is at the top of the hierarchy. The PLC
controls 12 distributed TCUs (2nd level). Each TCU controls 24 TRCs (T/R Controllers), representing the 3rd level
of the hierarchical structure. 25) 26)

Figure 34: Electronic beam steering using the active phased array antenna (image credit: ISRO, Ref. 10)

Figure 35: Imaging geometry of RISAT-1 (image credit: ISRO)

Figure 36: Photo of a TRM (T/R Module) of size 170 mm x 70 mm x 20 mm (image credit: ISRO)

Figure 37: Photo of a TRC (T/R Controller) ASIC (image credit: ISRO)

Figure 38: Distributed controller hierarchy (image credit: ISRO)

1) Baseband Digital Subsystems
DCG (Digital Chirp Generator). The DCG hardware consists of 2 identical modules located in the power supply. A
DCG device is based on Xilinx Virtex XQVR-600 FPGA synthesizers which transmit the I/Q chirp signal of 0-75 MHz
bandwidth using either a PROM look-up table or a direct digital chirp synthesis approach. The output signal is lowpass filtered, vector modulated, multiplied by an appropriate factor and subsequently up-converted in the RF
segment to the desired carrier frequency.

Figure 39: Standard configuration of the DCG (image credit: ISRO/SAC)

DACS (Data Acquisition and Compression Subsystem). The objective of DACS is to support the following
- High-speed signal (8 bit I/Q) quantization of the complex radar echo, including calibration
- Demultiplexing of the signal into multiple channels
- Data compression is performed with a real-time flexible BAQ (Block Adaptive Quantization) algorithm of 2-6 bit
- Variable data rate of 64-1562 Mbit/s
- Formatting of demultiplexed data channels and auxiliary information.
The DACS module consists of Atmel's high speed ADC (Analog Digital Converter) & demultiplexer and a Xilinx
XQVR-600 FPGA-based BAQ and formatter. These are 2 identical DACS units along with their power supplies.

Figure 40: Standard configuration of the DACS (image credit: ISRO/SAC)

PLC (Payload Controller). The objective is to provide embedded control. command and coordination of all RISATSAR activities, including the active antenna electronics and instrument configuration. PLC interfaces with the BMU
(Bus Management Unit) and also generates all required control and timing signals in support of coherent SAR
operations. The PLC hardware consists of a motherboard-daughterboard configuration using a single 80C32
microcontroller, a Xilinx XQVR-600 FPGA, a Mil-STD-1553B based control processor and 3 I/O modules along with
its power supply. There are 2 PLCs, primary and redundant unit.

Figure 41: Standard configuration of the PLC (image credit: ISRO/SAC)

2) Tile Digital Electronics
The active antenna subsystem features a distributed embedded control subsystem which supports digital beamforming and beam switching in the elevation direction. A three-stage hierarchy is implemented consisting of the
PLC, TCU (Tile Control Unit) and TRC (Transmit Receive Controller).
The TCU controls and coordinates the activities of a individual tile; it consists of multiple T/R modules with their
electronics. The TCU utilizes the beam configuration related information received from the PLC to translate and
compute the phase and amplitude parameters for the relevant T/R modules (as well as monitoring). The TCU is a
radiation-hardened ASIC (Application Specific Integrated Circuit) module containing the prime and redundant
logics. The antenna consists of 12 TCUs.
A single TRC unit controls the H and V T/R-RF modules. The TRC stores the entire characterization (like phase
and gain correction factors for a given T/R module pair (H&V) and controls the phase shifter and attenuator (both
at 6 bit) in the T/R RF modules. The TRC is also a radiation-hardened ASIC module housed along with the T/R RF
modules. A total of 288 TRC units are used for the active antenna.
3) Ground segment processing and support systems
QLP/NRTP (Quicklook Processor/Near Real-time SAR Processor). This device consists of a cPCI computer
system, and a COTS-based DSP (Digital Signal Processor). The multiprocessor DSP board uses 8 to 16 DSP
modules with multiple link interfaces. The peripheral boards include SCSI, SVGA, and custom FPGA interfaces.
Two-dimensional complex SAR processing, involving range and azimuth compression and motion compensation
tasks are performed by the DSP boards. The processed imagery is displayed on a monitor and stored on a
recorder. A cPCI (Pentium P$ single board) computer performs the control and coordination tasks for the various
DSP devices and interfaces. 27)
DCG (Digital Chirp Generator)
Chirp parameters

2-75 MHz; 20 s


10 bit amplitude; 12 bit frequency/phase (min)

Device size, mass, power

260 mm x 210 mm x 150 mm, 4 kg, 4.5 W

DACS (Data Acquisition and Compression Subsystem)


8 I+8Q @ 20.8 - 250 MHz sampling rate

Onboard compression

2-6 bit BAQ (Block Adaptive Quantization) with bypass facility

Sensor data rate (max)

326 Mbit/s (6 bit BAQ), 1562 Mbit/s (3 bit BAQ)

Device size, mass, power

260 mm x 210 mm x 150 mm, 4.6 kg, 27 W

PLC (Payload Controller)


2800-3700 Hz PRF (Pulse Repetition Frequency); 58-184 s of data collection



MIL-STD-1553B @ 1 Mbit/s with bus BMU

Device size, mass, power

285 mm x 235 mm x 165 mm, 5 kg, 15 W

TCU/TRC (Tile Digital Electronics)

No of elevation beams

126 (over 100-700 km swath geometry on either side of the ground track)

TRM phase/amp update

18 s @ PRF rate, HC TTL interface

Device size, mass, power

380 mm x 60 mm x 90 mm, 2 kg, 3 W (TCU)

173 mm x 18.5 mm x 81 mm, 0.2 kg, 1.5 W, (TRC)

QLP/NRTP (Quicklook Processor/Near Real-time SAR Processor)

SAR image parameters

Resolution: 1-12 m (ground range) x 1-48 m (azimuth)

Limited swath (4096 range gates, 15-240 km in width) real-time
Full swath (20 k range gates, 30-240 km in width) near real-time


Real-time (QLP) to max 45 minutes (NRTP) per scene, 10-15 GFLOPS

Device parameters

8-14 slot cPCI chassis, PE SBC, 96 Tiger SHARC DSP @ 250 MHz, 700 W, 20 kg

Table 4: Overview of Advanced Digital Subsystem parameters

Figure 42: RISAT-1 data processing levels & products (image credit: ISRO/NRSC) 28)
Standard products












Courier / FTP

Value added products

Pol-SAR products
Multi-date/sensor registered products
Large area mosaic products
Local incidence angle corrected products
Precision geocoded products
Terrain geocoded products
InSAR products
Speckle reduced products

Table 5: Overview of SAR products

Ground segment:
The RISAT-1 satellite health maintenance and SAR payload operations are carried out from the MOX (Mission
Operations Complex) of ISTRAC (ISRO Telemetry, Tracking and Command Network), Bangalore, using various
mission computers and associated mission software and communication links. 29) 30)
The TTC (Telemetry, Tracking and Command) functions of the satellite in S-band are also supported by a network
of ground stations. The recently operationalized IMGEOS (Integrated Multi-mission Ground segment for Earth
Observation Satellites) facility at NRSC (National Remote Sensing Center), Shadnagar, Hyderabad Complex
carries out the automated execution of entire ground-processing tasks for RISAT-1 mission beginning with SAR
payload programming, data acquisition and SAR signal and image DP (Data Processing) to SAR raw data and
data product dissemination with fast turn-around times (TATs).
Unlike optical sensors, SAR image or data product generation involves elaborate pre-processing of SAR raw data
as well as complex, two-dimensional radar-matched filtering or focusing apart from other motion correction tasks,
all of which have been implemented and operationalized by the SIPA/SAC team. A HWQLP (Hardware Quick Look
SAR Processor/NRTP (Near Real Time SAR Processor) has also been built by the MRSA/SAC team at
Ahmedabad and installed at IMGEOS, NRSC, Shadnagar.
The complexity of RISAT-1 mission entailed proper planning, execution and critical monitoring of on-board payload
subsystems. During LEOP (Launch and Early Orbit Phase), initial and normal phases were provided from the
MOX/ISTRAC of Bangalore. Figure 43 illustrates the functional organization of the RISAT-1 ground segment

Figure 43: Organization of ground segment operations (image credit: ISRO)

Figure 44 illustrates the TTC ground station configuration. The ISTRAC TTC stations are equipped with an
antenna subsystem with T/R (Transmit/Receive) feed, TTCP (TTC Processor), STC (Station Computer), and
Monitor and Control System. The station is configured to support S-band carrier reception with polarization
diversity mode for auto track and ranging functions. It receives both RHCP and LHCP signals simultaneously and
combines them optimally before data detection. The ISTRAC communication network provides the real-time
voice/data/fax connectivity for the mission operations between the MOX, the Vehicle Control Center, TTC stations,
payload data acquisition, and the DP centers. Communication is established using satellite links, terrestrial links
and dedicated fiber links.
The pre-launch and LEOP operations were supported from the MCR (Mission Control Room) and MAR (Mission
Analysis Room). The regular normal phase operations are being supported from a DMCR (Dedicated Mission
Control Room).

Figure 44: Configuration of the TTC ground station (image credit: ISRO)
Roll bias and attitude steering for zero Doppler: Since the SAR payload is a side-looking radar, there is a roll bias
requirement of 36 for the left and right-looking configuration. Also, to nullify the Doppler due to Earths rotation
and the Doppler variations due to the eccentricity of the orbit and Earth's oblateness, yaw and pitch steering of the
spacecraft have to be performed. The necessary steering coefficients and bias commands are uploaded to the
satellite through ground commanding. Both yaw and pitch steering coefficients are computed on ground and
uplinked to the satellite. The residual Doppler (50150 Hz) can be estimated either from the SAR raw data, or
using the spacecraft attitude data, and is being corrected during processing.
SAR payload operations: RISAT-1 SAR payload operations are carried out using the on-board payload sequencer
by transmitting the commands generated by the CSG (Command Sequence Generator) based on the request file
received from NDC (NRSC Data Center), Hyderabad, using the PPS (Payload Programming System). PPS is a
ground-based operational software system to efficiently plan user image acquisition requests and generate
spacecraft payload sequencing commands for imaging the area of user request. It also helps to image the
maximum number of user requested AOI (Areas of Interest) in a pass-wise sequence, by arranging the user
requests in one orbit and optimally using the spacecraft resources.
The PPS is utilized to generate the P/L operations on a given day, including the SSR recording operations
elsewhere in the world. The consolidated P/L plan is sent to the SCC (Spacecraft Control Center) of ISTRAC,
Bangalore for command generation through the CSG system. The CSG is responsible for the generation of
configuration and timing information and the beam parameters for conducting the SAR payload operations. The
SAR P/L operation commands are uplinked one day in advance. Thus, the PPS and CSG activities are important
components of the MMS (Mission Management System).
DRS (Data Reception System): The DRS comprises four 7.5 m antenna systems with dual polarization configured
in multi-mission mode to track and receive data from any remote sensing satellite. It is equipped with the state-ofthe-art bore-site facility for validating the data reception chain, both in local loop and radiation mode. Figure 45
shows one of the RISAT-1 DRS chains configured under IMGEOS architecture. It consists of the antenna and
tracking pedestal, dual polarized feed and RF systems, digital servo and automation system, IF and baseband
system and data ingest system. The composite S/X feed is dual circularly polarized in both S-band and X-band
with the capability to receive LHC and RHC polarized signals simultaneously using the frequency reuse
technique. The S-band telemetry data and tracking signals are down-converted to 70 MHz IF. The down-converted
X- and S-band tracking IF signals are fed to a three-channel ITS (Integrated Tracking System). The IF outputs from
first data down-converter (two carriers) and the S-band data IF are transferred to the control room through a multicore optical fiber cable and fed through a programmable IF matrix to the second down-converter and then to high
data rate digital demodulator. The data and clock signals from high rate digital demodulators are driven through
LVDS interface to the data ingest system for further processing and product generation.
The salient features of the RISAT-1 DRS are as follows:
7.5 m Cassegrain antenna system with G/T of 32 dB/K @ 5 EL.
Simultaneous RHC and LHC polarized signal reception @ 8212.5 MHz with dual polarized S/X-band composite
feed using the frequency reuse technique.
The feed and front-end system are realized with a single channel mono pulse tracking.
Two data reception chains at 720 MHz IF, each with 320 MHz bandwidth.
X-band auto track either through RHCP or LHCP carrier.
QPSK modulated RF carrier with 160 Mbit/s data rate each in I and Q channels.
Synthesized up/down converter with additional channels.
IF link for transfer of high data rate modulated IF spectra.
High data rate demodulators at 320 Mbit/s (I + Q) data rate.

Figure 45: Schematic view of the RISAT-1 data reception chain (image credit: ISRO)
SAR off-line DP and product generation: The off-line operational DP for RISAT-1 SAR is carried out at NRSC,
Shadnagar in an IMGEOS environment on six SMP nodes with each node having four 8 core-machines. The basic
steps of SAR DP can be summarized as follows:
Block adaptive quantization decompression
Correction for I and Q imbalance
Doppler centroid estimation
Range compression
Range cell migration correction
Azimuth compression
Single-look complex or multi-look data generation
Slant range to ground range conversion
Figure 46 shows the basic data flow diagram for SAR processor. The request for data product generation is
ingested through Data Product work flow managers. Master and slave schedulers execute on separate hosts.
Once a work-order arrives, the software automatically routes it to a free slave node and generates the outputs. The
status of work-orders, viz. running, suspended, aborted, scheduled, error or completed for a particular scheduler
session can be known from GUI. The data products generation facility caters to Stripmap, ScanSAR and Spotlight
imaging modes of the RISAT-1 satellite with the following product level specifications.
Raw Signal Products (level-0)
Geo-Tagged Products (level-1)
Terrain-corrected Geocoded Products (level-2).

Figure 46: RISAT data flow for the SAR processor (image credit: ISRO, Ref. 29)

The data products from RISAT-1 have already been released to users from 19 October 2012 onwards. The RISAT1 imaging products are expected to enhance the application potential of SAR data not only in India, but also
globally in many important resource applications and disaster management situations. RADAR (Radio Detection
and Ranging) data from space platforms have already made a significant mark the world over because of the
ability of the radars to make observations during the day or night, look through cloud cover and achieve resolution
and observe details that are difficult to obtain for optical and infrared sensors. Many operational modes and the
hybrid polarimetric capabilities of RISAT-1 are expected to open up newer avenues, as it provides many more
observable parameters like amplitude, phase and state of polarization, enabling many new scientific studies
leading to diverse and novel applications using microwave data (Ref. 6).
1) T. Misra, S. S. Rana, V. H. Bora, N. M. Desai, C. V. N. Rao, Rajeevjyothi, SAR Payload of Radar

Imaging Satellite (RISAT) of ISRO, Proceedings of EUSAR 2006, Dresden, Germany, May 16-18, 2006
2) T. Misra, S. S. Rana, R. N. Tyagi, K. Thyagarajan, RISAT: first planned SAR mission of ISRO, Asia-

Pacific Remote Sensing, Conference 6407, `GEOSS and Next-Generation Sensors and Missions,' Stephen
A. Mango, Ranganath R. Navalgund, Yoshifumi Yasuoka, Editors, Proceedings of SPIE, Vol. 6407, Goa,
India, Nov. 13-17, 2006
3) B. Asha Rani, P. Deepak, T. Misra, Development of the ScanSAR Processing Algorithm for Spaceborne

SAR, Proceedings of IRSI (International Radar Symposium India), Bangalore, India, Dec. 20-22, 2005
4) RISAT-1 Radar Imaging Satellite, Sept. 2007, URL:
5) N. Valarmathi, R. N. Tyagi, S. M. Kamath, B. Trinatha Reddy, M. VenkataRamana, V. V. Srinivasan,

Chayan Dutta, N. Veena, K. Venketesh, G. N. Raveendranath, G. Ravi Chandra Babu, K. Sreenivasa

Prasad, Rajeev R. Badagandi, P. Natarajan, S. Sudhakar, J. Subhalakshmi, Sreenivasa Rao, M. Krishna
Reddy, RISAT-1 spacecraft configuration: architecture, technology and performance, Current Science, Vol.
104, No 4, February 25, 2013, Special Section: Radar Imaging Satellite-1, pp. 462-471, URL:
6) A. S. Kiran Kumar, Significance of RISAT-1 in ISROs Earth Observation Program, Current Science,

Vol. 104, No 4, February 25, 2013, Special Section: Radar Imaging Satellite-1,Foreword, pp. 444-445, URL:
8) RISAT-1 brochure, ISRO, URL:
9) P. Kunhikrishnan, L. Sowmianarayanan, M. Vishnu Nampoothiri, PSLV-C19/RISAT-1 mission: the

launcher aspects, Current Science, Vol. 104, No 4, February 25, 2013, Special Section: Radar Imaging
Satellite-1, pp. 472-476, URL:
10) Radar Imaging Satellite-1, Proceedings of UN COPUOS (Committee on the Peaceful Uses of Outer

Space), UNOOSA, Vienna, Austria, June 6-15, 2012, URL:
11) Information provided by Tapan Misra, Deputy Director of MRSA (Microwave Remote Sensors Area),

ISRO/SAC (Space Application Center), Ahmedabad, India

12) Vinay K Dadhwal, RADAR Imaging Satellite ((RISAT)) 1 - SAR Mission of ISRO, Proceedings of the

50th Session of Scientific & Technical Subcommittee of UNCOPUOS, Vienna, Austria, Feb. 11-22, 2013,
14) Radar Imaging Satellite (RISAT-1) launched, NNRMS Bulletin 36, June 2012, p. 12, URL:
15) RISAT-1 placed in final Polar Sun-synchronous orbit, April 29, 2012, URL:

16) RISAT-1 successfully placed in its final orbit, WebIndia, April 28, 2012, URL:
17) T. Misra, S. S. Rana, K. N. Shankara, Synthetic Aperture Radar Payload of Radar Imaging Satellite

(RISAT) of ISRO, URSI-GA (Union Radio Scientifique Internationale-General Assembly) ,New Delhi, India,
Oct. 21-29, 2005, URL:
18) A. S. Kiran Kumar, Significance of RISAT-1 in ISROs Earth Observation Program, Current Science,

Vol. 104, No 4, February 25, 2013, Special Section: Radar Imaging Satellite-1, pp. 444-445, URL:
19) Tapan Misra, S. S. Rana, N. M. Desai, D. B. Dave, Rajeevjyoti, R. K. Arora, C. V. N. Rao, B. V. Bakori,

R. Neelakantan, J. G. Vachchani, Synthetic Aperture Radar payload on-board RISAT-1: configuration,

technology and performance, Current Science, Vol. 104, No 4, February 25, 2013, Special Section: Radar
Imaging Satellite-1, pp. 446-461, URL:
20) N. M. Desai, C. V. N. Rao, R. Neelakantan, B. V. Bakori, D. B. Dave, Tapan Misra, R. K. Arora, V. R.

Gujraty, S. S. Rana, Core Radar Electronics and Industry Role in ISROs Current and Future Microwave
Remote Sensing Payloads, Proceedings of the 59th IAC (International Astronautical Congress), Glasgow,
Scotland, UK, Sept. 29 to Oct. 3, 2008, IAC-08-B1.3.8
21) N. M. Desai, B. Saravana Kumar, Ritesh Kumar Sharma, Ramesh Gameti, Shalini Gangele, Abhishek

Kunal, J. G. Vachhani, Onboard Signal Processors for ISRO's Microwave Radars, Proceedings of the 60th
IAC (International Astronautical Congress), Daejeon, Korea, Oct. 12-16, 2009, paper: IAC-09-B1.4.12
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Sensing Center), Hyderabad, India, Feb. 16-17, 2012, URL:

23) N. M. Desai, C. V. N. Rao, R. Neelakantan, B. V. Bakori, D. B. Dave, Tapan Misra, R. K. Arora, V. R.

Gujraty, S. S. Rana, Core Radar Electronics and Industry Role in ISRO's current and future Microwave
Remote Sensing Payloads, Proceedings of the 59th IAC (International Astronautical Congress), Glasgow,
Scotland, UK, Sept. 29 to Oct. 3, 2008, IAC-08-B1.3.8
24) A. S. Kiran Kumar, Tapan Misra, Sensor Technology for Earth Observation: An ISRO Perspective,

58th IAC (International Astronautical Congress), International Space Expo, Hyderabad, India, Sept. 24-28,
2007, IAC-07-B1.3.01
25) N. M. Desai, J. G. Vachhani, B. S. Kumar, V. R. Gujraty, S. S. Rana, Advanced Digital Technology

Elements of Synthetic Aperture Radar Payload of RISAT Mission, Proceedings of EUSAR 2006, Dresden,
Germany, May 16-18, 2006
26) H. Patel, S. Bhattacharya, R. Neelkanthan, V. R. Gujraty, Architecture of On-Board Controller Digital

ASIC for Spaceborne Active Phased Array Radar, Proceedings of IRSI (International Radar Symposium
India), Bangalore, India, Dec. 20-22, 2005
27) N. M. Desai, B. Saravana Kumar, Ritesh Kumar Sharma, A. Kunal, R. B. Gameti, V. R. Gujraty, Near

Real Time SAR Processors for ISRO's Multi-Mode RISAT-1 and DMSAR, Proceedings of EUSAR 2008,
7th European Conference on Synthetic Aperture Radar, June 2-5, 2008, Friedrichshafen, Germany
28) Sesha Sai, SAR Applications from RISAT1 Perspective, User Interaction Meeting, NRSC (National

Remote Sensing Center), Hyderabad, India, Feb. 16-17, 2012, URL:
29) V. Mahadevan, T. V. S. R. K. Prasad, D. S. Jain, Santanu Chowdhury, M. Pitchamani, N. M. Desai,

Ground segment for RISAT-1 SAR mission, Current Science, Vol. 104, No 4, February 25, 2013, Special
Section: Radar Imaging Satellite-1, pp. 477-489, URL:
30) Manab Chakraborty, Sushma Panigrahy, A. S. Rajawat, Raj Kumar, T. V. R. Murthy, Dipanwita Haldar,

Abhisek Chakraborty, Tanumi Kumar, Sneha Rode, Hrishikesh Kumar, Manik Mahapatra, Sanchayita
Kundu, Initial results using RISAT-1 C-band SAR data, Current Science, Vol. 104, No 4, February 25,
2013, Special Section: Radar Imaging Satellite-1, pp. 477-489, URL:

The information compiled and edited in this article was provided b y Herb ert J. Kramer from his documentation of:
Ob servation of the Earth and Its Environment: Survey of Missions and Sensors (Springer Verlag) as well as many
other sources after the pub lication of the 4th edition in 2002. - Comments and corrections to this article are always
welcome for further updates.


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