This thesis investigates the compression of synthetic aperture radar (SAR) raw data using field-programmable gate array (FPGA) technology. Specifically, this thesis focuses on the onboard, real-time data compression for spaceborne SAR systems. SAR is an important instrument for remote sensing of the Earth's surface, and produces large quantities of data that require compression before downlink via a limited capacity channel. SAR system design, including data model ing, is analyzed from the perspective of onboard data compression, and algorithm implementation requirements are derived. The development of a simple, yet flexible, FPGA implementation of a block adaptive quantization (BAQ) compression algorithm is described, and its performance analyzed. Also described is a hardware test bench that was developed to verify the correct operation of the implemented algorithm at high data rates. The state-of-the-art in SAR raw data compression algorithms is reviewed, including the identification of more advanced algorithms potentially suitable for future FPGA implementation.
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