New device has hidden depths

Researchers at Australia’s Commonwealth Scientific and Industrial Research Organisation (CSIRO) have invented a sub-surface radar (SSR) that detects objects that cannot be found by other means.

CSIRO researcher Dr Tony Farmer said the SSR works by transmitting high frequency electromagnetic pulses through the background medium and detecting echoes reflected either by objects buried within the material or from interfaces between different media types.

The timing and spatial location of the echoes are then said to provide information about the subsurface objects or layers.

‘A unique feature of our radar unit is that it is able to look with high resolution close to the surface,’ said Farmer. ‘It can also find objects such as pipes, geophysical structures, plastics, land mines, water tables, voids and disturbed ground.’

The sub-surface radar is available as a prototype, Siro-Pulse, a high-resolution SSR system developed by CSIRO.

The system operates in the 1 – 2 GHz range, which is said to result in high spatial resolution. Novel antenna configurations enable location of features close to the surface (in the ‘near-field’ region), which conventional SSR systems find difficult to probe.

The radar control unit is connected to a laptop computer and data acquisition and processing is provided by an appropriate software package.

On the web