Planetary radar astronomy

  • Ostro, S. J. (1993). Reviews of Modern Physics 65, 1235-1279.

    Radar is a powerful technique that has furnished otherwise unavailable information about solar system bodies for three decades. The advantages of radar in planetary astronomy result from (1) the observer's control of all the attributes of the coherent signal used to illuminate the target, especially the waveform's time/frequency modulation and polarization; (2) the ability of radar to resolve objects spatially via measurements of the distribution of echo power in time delay and Doppler frequency; (3) the pronounced degree to which delay-Doppler measurements constrain orbits and spin vectors; and (4) centimeter-to-meter wavelengths, which easily penetrate optically opaque planetary clouds and cometary comas, permit investigation of nearsurface macrostructure and bulk density, and are sensitive to high concentrations of metal or, in certain situations, ice. Planetary radar astronomy has primarily involved observations with Earth-based radar telescopes, but also includes some experiments with a spaceborne transmitter or receiver. In addition to providing a wealth of information about the geological and dynamical properties of asteroids, comets, the inner planets, and natural satellites, radar experiments have established the scale of the solar system, have contributed significantly to the accuracy of planetary ephemerides, and have helped to constrain theories of gravitation. This review outlines radar astronomical techniques and describes principal observational results.

    Asteroid Radar Astronomy Publications