Passive radar imaging of ship targets with GNSS signals of opportunity

Debora Pastina, Fabrizio Santi, Federica Pieralice, Michail Antoniou, Mike Cherniakov

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

4 Citations (Scopus)
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This article explores the possibility to exploit global navigation satellite systems (GNSS) signals to obtain radar imagery of ships. This is a new application area for the GNSS remote sensing, which adds to a rich line of research about the alternative utilization of navigation satellites for remote sensing purposes, which currently includes reflectometry, passive radar, and synthetic aperture radar (SAR) systems. In the field of short-range maritime surveillance, GNSS-based passive radar has already proven to detect and localize ship targets of interest. The possibility to obtain meaningful radar images of observed vessels would represent an additional benefit, opening the doors to noncooperative ship classification capability with this technology. To this purpose, a proper processing chain is here conceived and developed, able to achieve well-focused images of ships while maximizing their signal-to-background ratio. Moreover, the scaling factors needed to map the backscatter energy in the range and cross-range domain are also analytically derived, enabling the estimation of the length of the target. The effectiveness of the proposed approach at obtaining radar images of ship targets and extracting relevant features is confirmed via an experimental campaign, comprising multiple Galileo satellites and a commercial ferry undergoing different kinds of motion.
Original languageEnglish
JournalIEEE Transactions on Geoscience and Remote Sensing
Early online date16 Jul 2020
Publication statusE-pub ahead of print - 16 Jul 2020


  • GNSS-based passive radar
  • Global navigation satellite system
  • feature extraction
  • marine vehicles
  • maritime surveillance
  • passive radar
  • passive radar imaging
  • radar imaging
  • receivers
  • satellites


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