• Overview

    Welcome to the website of the Instrumentation and Future Technologies Technical Committee (IFT). IFT-TC is one of the six technical committees of the IEEE Geoscience and Remote Sensing Society (GRSS). The purpose of this web site is to provide IFT members with access to geoscience remote sensing technology-specific information and resources, and to inform the general public about instrumentation and future technologies for geoscience and remote sensing.

    Join this Technical Committee

    Quit this Technical Committee


    To foster international cooperation in advancing the state-of-the-art in geoscience remote sensing instrumentation and technologies that improve knowledge for the betterment of society and the global environment.

    Mission Statement

    • To facilitate, engage and coordinate GRSS members and the communities-at-large to:
      • Assess the current state-of-the-art in remote sensing instruments and technology;
      • Identify new instrument concepts and relevant technology trends;
      • Recognize enabling technologies for future instruments;
    • To promote and provide insight to institutions and industry on remote sensing instrument and technology development.
  • Organization

    The IFT-TC is structured in such a way to encourage active participation of GRSS and other interested IEEE members. The IFT-TC organization comprises two committee Co-Chairs, two Senior Advisors, and five working groups (WGs). These five working groups focus on the following instrument types and remote sensing technology areas:

    1. Active Microwave – Radars and Synthetic Aperture Radars (SAR)
    2. Microwave Radiometers
    3. Active Optical and Lidar
    4. GNSS and Signals of Opportunity
    5. Remote Sensing Instruments and Technologies for Small Satellites

    Each of these working groups carries out the IFT-TC missions within its technology area.

    The following are the core committee officers for 2015-2017:

    Committee Chair:

    Boon Lim
    Instrumentation and Future Technologies Technical Committee Co-Chair
    Microwave Systems Technology – 382G
    Jet Propulsion Laboratory
    M/S 168-314
    4800 Oak Grove Drive
    Pasadena, CA 91109
    Phone: 818-354-3068
    Fax: 818-393-4683
    Email: Boon.H.Lim@jpl.nasa.gov

    Committee Co-Chair:

    Marwan Younis
    Instrumentation and Future Technologies Technical Committee Chair
    German Aerospace Center (DLR)
    Microwaves and Radar Institute
    82230 Wessling/Oberpfaffenhofen
    Phone: +49 8153 28 2358
    Email: marwan.younis@dlr.de


    Senior Advisors:

    Mark Drinkwater
    Mission Science Division
    European Space Agency, ESTEC, The Netherlands
    Email: Mark.Drinkwater@esa.int

    George Komar
    Earth Science Technology Office,
    National Aeronautics and Space Administration, USA
    Email: george.komar@nasa.gov

    Working Group Leads:

    Active Microwave – Radar and SAR WG Leads

    Eastwood Im
    Earth Science Technology Research and Advanced Concepts Office
    Jet Propulsion Laboratory (JPL), USA
    Email: eastwood.im@jpl.nasa.gov

    Michael Ludwig
    Payload Engineer
    European Space Agency / ESTEC, The Netherlands
    Email: michael.ludwig@esa.int

    Passive Microwave – Microwave Radiometers

    Andreas Colliander
    Climate, Oceans and Solid Earth Science Section
    Jet Propulsion Laboratory, USA
    Email: Andreas.Colliander@jpl.nasa.gov

    Darren McKague
    Department of Atmospheric, Oceanic and Space Sciences
    University of Michigan, USA
    Email: dmckague@umich.edu

    Active Optical and Lidar

    Upendra Singh
    Chief Technologist,
    Engineering Directorate NASA LaRC
    Email: Upendra.N.Singh@nasa.gov

    Georgios Tzeremes
    Optoelectronic Engineer
    Email: Georgios.Tzeremes@esa.int

    GNSS and Signals of Opportunity

    James Garrison
    Associate Professor of Aeronautics and Astronautics and Electrical and Computer
    Purdue University
    Email: jgarriso@purdue.edu

    Estel Cardellach
    GNSS Researcher
    Institut de Ciencies de l’Espai
    Email: estel@ice.cat

    Remote Sensing Instruments and Technologies for Small Satellites

    William Blackwell
    Sensor Technology and System Applications
    MIT Lincoln Lab, USA
    Email: wjb@ll.mit.edu

    Boon Lim
    Microwave Systems Technology
    Jet Propulsion Laboratory
    Email: Boon.H.Lim@jpl.nasa.gov
  • Working Groups

    Active Microwave – Radar and SAR Working Group

    The goal of the Active Microwave – Radar and SAR Working Group is to promote the advancement of active microwave remote sensing instruments and instrument technology.

    If spaceborne Synthetic Aperture Radar (SAR) sensors were categorized according to their operational flexibility, four generations could be identified. The first sensors were simple turn on/off sensors with a single mode of operation (fixed antenna beam, bandwidth, pulse repetition frequency etc.) Later, sensors were developed which could be operated in multiple modes, such as StripMap, ScanSAR or SpotLight; however the macro-based commanding was basically restricted to selecting a specific mode without the flexibility to alter individual instrument settings. Current SAR sensors -third generation- offer a greater flexibility in commanding nearly each individual parameter of the instrument. This can be understood as providing the basic building blocks to construct any operation mode in combination with any possible instrument setting. However, current sensors still do not offer a satisfactory solution to the “fundamental limitation of SAR sensors” which can be summarized as the incapability to simultaneously provide high (azimuth) resolution and wide coverage (swath), instead they offer the flexibility to choose a compromise between high resolution or wide coverage. As a result, even state-of-the-art systems can not fulfill the heterogeneous user demand on products at the required performance level.

    Intensive research is on-going for a new, “fourth” generation of Smart Multi Aperture Radar Techniques (SMART). The main innovative characteristic of this forthcoming generation of SAR systems is the use of multiple elevation and/or azimuth channels combined with Digital Beam-Forming (DBF) capability. This allows for the synthesis of multiple or dynamic digital receiver beams. In general SMART operational modes produce one or more digital receiver beams, each covering an unambiguous range segment on the ground. Utilizing the Digital Beam-Forming (DBF) property of SMART sensors, these receiver beams are actually formed on the recorded echo signal without the necessity for analogue beam-forming capabilities. These beams may additionally be scanned in elevation direction to follow the echo on the ground.

    In the most general sense SMART sensors allow a relaxation of the system design parameters, by increasing the degrees of freedom. Specifically, for a given geometric resolution this results in systems with wider swath, higher signal-to-noise ratio and lower ambiguity-to-signal ratio, all being key requirements on SAR systems, which enable further improvement of the performance; for example an increased swath width can be used to reduce the revisit time and by this enable frequent observations. Equipped with digital receive channels, SMART sensors do not require phase and amplitude control of the received signals, this yields an RF hardware free of transmit/receive modules and complex control and calibration units. Instead, SMART will push the development of onboard digital signal processing capable of handling multiple channels of high data rate. An additional advantage of multi-azimuth (along-track) channel SAR is, that it inherently enables Ground Moving Target Indication (GMTI) capabilities; thus it is expected SMART radar sensors will open a new era in civil spaceborne SAR GMTI provided that the necessary processing algorithms are developed.

    One limitation of monostatic pulsed SAR systems which is not overcome by SMART is the maximum echo window length. This is restricted by the fact, that during the transmit instances the radar cannot simultaneously receive ground echoes. Thus for a given Pulse Repetiton Interval (PRI) the transmit duty cycle limits the duration during which ground echoes can be received. This either imposes a restriction on the maximum swath width (single swath operation mode) or causes gaps in the coverage (multi-swath mode). Reducing the duty cycle mitigates this effect; however for a fixed peak power this is at the expense of the reduced average transmit power. Recent development in semiconductor technology, specifically Gallium Nitride (GaN), allows handling significantly higher amount of peak power and be this prove to be an attractive solution to increase the echo window length without sacrificing average transmit power and by this SNR.

    The above discussion motivates three interrelated issues which are taken as focus points for the activity of the Working Group on Active Microwave – Radar and SAR

    • Digital Beam-Forming
    • Gallium Nitride Technology,
    • Spaceborne GMTI Signal Processing

    Other topics in active microwave remote sensing may be pursued based on community input. We solicit suggestions and comments. The working group intends to organize special informal workshops and special sessions at IGARSS.

    Microwave Radiometer Working Group

    The Microwave Radiometer Working Group (MRWG) addresses issues related to passive remote sensing in the microwave, millimeter wave and sub-millimeter wave portions of the electromagnetic spectrum. This includes all aspects of this area of remote sensing technology including in particular:

    • Trends in instrumentation and new instrument and calibration concepts
    • Specific technology challenges
    • Disruptive technologies for passive microwave observations
    • Technology push, and
    • Market pull from both scientific needs and commercial applications

    The desire of the MRWG members is to use this website as a place to both provide information to the community on these topics as well as gathering input from the community as a whole. This includes offering members of the general remote sensing community the opportunity to highlight relevant developments. This also includes the compilation of white papers summarizing the views of the MRWG members in these areas. To that end, the MRWG has identified the following key trends and issues within the passive microwave remote sensing field:

      • Radio-frequency interference (RFI) – detection and mitigation methods
      • RFI is a significant issue in many microwave bands and is expected to increase in the near future. Methods are being developed to detect and remove RFI to enable interference-free remote sensing in the affected bands. These methods need to be validated and implemented – key implementation issues still exist, particularly for space-based missions.
      • Digital radiometers – digital back-ends, correlators, and spectrometers

    The desire for on-board digital signal processing is pushing the passive microwave field towards the use of digital radiometry. This includes digital spectrometers for the detection and removal of RFI and for sounding trace gases in the Earth and in planetary atmospheres, and digital correlators for use in the digital beam forming and in polarimetric radiometry. These applications require low mass, low power, and high-performance digital solutions that can operate in high radiation environments.

    • High-frequency, mm and sub-mm technologiesApplications such as the sounding of trace gases and the remote sensing of cloud ice require observations in the 100s of GHz to THz range. For these applications, low power, low noise receiver technologies are required and a number of competing technologies are being developed.
    • Radiometer calibration including: noise diodes, cold-Field-Effect Transistors (cold-FETs) and external targets.
    • Remote sensing observations in general require sources of stable, accurate calibration. The current set of calibration standards on, for example, space-borne passive microwave instruments have a number of important limitations. New methods of calibrating radiometers, such as vicarious calibration via stable external targets, and new internal calibration methods such as the use of noise diodes and cold-fet calibration targets, are being developed to address these issues.
    • Low power, low mass, miniaturized radiometers including MMIC/MIC (Monolithic Microwave Integrated Circuits/Microwave Integrate Circuit) technology
    • Nearly all applications of passive microwave technology, and in particular space-borne applications, benefit from low power, low mass, miniaturized receivers. Aside from the obvious benefits of reduced payload accommodation requirements, miniaturization reduces thermal gradients thereby improving receiver calibration. Developments in MMIC/MIC technology have enabled significant reductions in receiver mass, power, and volume and developments in the area will further enable the use of these microwave radiometers on future remote sensing missions.
    • Aperture technologies including: synthetic thinned aperture, phased arrays, large deployable apertures
    • A number of current and future applications of passive microwave radiometry require new aperture technologies. These include applications such as the desire to make passive microwave observations from geosynchronous orbit and the desire to make low frequency observations from low Earth orbit, where apertures using conventional technologies to provide the required spatial resolution would be prohibitively large.
    • Also included is the desire to make high resolution observations from small platforms such as UAVs (Unmanned Aerial Vehicles). The fundamental issue is the desire for small beam-widths from an aperture that can fit within a small volume. Synthetic thinned apertures, phased arrays, and large deployable apertures are all examples of technologies that address this issue.


    In the future, this web page will include white papers addressing the key developments in the above areas. Additional information in these specific areas as well as any other relevant area, including specific developments from members of the general community, is welcomed and encouraged. Any input can be sent via email to the WG leads. At a later time, a discussion forum will be opened, which can also be used to communicate this information.

    Active Optical and Lidar Working Group

    The objective of Active Optical & Lidar working group is to address the challenges related to active optical remote sensing as well as promote the advancement of Active Optical & Lidar remote sensing instruments not only for ground but airborne and satellite applications. With a number of instruments already operational or pending launch within the coming years, many of their original technological issues have been resolved, still the long term reliability of key active components and the survival on harsh space environment requires additional efforts and investments. Some focal areas that summarizes the key topics for the working group of Active Optical & Lidar instruments are:

    • Continuation of work in the domain of long-lived/ high power UV lasers and optics, especially contamination and optical damage
    • Research to improve the reliability of lasers and high power optics operated in vacuum
    • Space-qualification of tuneable lasers and optics to support trace gas lidars operating in the 1-5 µm region
    • Space-qualification of higher efficiency lasers such fiber lasers and amplifiers. Radiation hardening is an area of particular concern
    • General power scaling of space-qualified lasers with a focus on improved efficiency and thermal tolerances
    • Improved high gain, low dark noise and low NEP space qualified/qualifiable array/detector at all wavelengths, and in particular in IR bandwidth

    These areas are not restrictive in any way and additional topics may be pursued based on community inputs. Furthermore, the generic goal of instrument flexibility and multi-functionality is gaining momentum in this WG with the broadening of active optical applications (optical telecom, navigation etc.) In the future, this web page shall include white papers addressing the key developments in the above mentioned topics. Feel free to provide any input via email to the WG leads to include additional topics for consideration.

    GNSS and Signals of Opportunity Working Group

    The purpose of the GNSS and Signals of Opportunity Working Group is to cover all non-navigational uses of GNSS signals. These can be broadly divided into two distinct groups: one is the use of GNSS signals received after passing through the limb of the Earth’s atmosphere i.e. occultation, the other is the use of GNSS signals reflected off the Earth’s surface from which properties of that surface may be determined, also known as GNSS-R.

    With the steady increase in sources of GNSS signals over the coming years, these two techniques are also set to increase in their use and understanding. The working group will therefore act as a forum for exchange and possible cooperation in these fields with respect to the instrument designs, processing and interpretation of results.

    On the one hand occultation is already established as an Earth Observation instrument (e.g. GRAS on board Metop), on the other, GNSS-R is very much in its infancy and is likely to develop significantly in the next few years. For both, the increase in numbers of navigation systems (GPS, Galileo, Glonass, Beidou), numbers of satellites, numbers of different frequencies (including possible extension into other bands such as C-band), increase of power transmitted and increase of bandwidth, will all add to the capabilities required of future GNSS instruments.

    These developments in GNSS can be of great benefit to the remote sensing community since they will not only allow far higher coverage than can currently be achieved with GPS alone, but also improved signal quality and hence enhancing the quality remotely of the remotely the technology for future instruments. For instance, for certain applications, e.g. mesoscale ocean altimetry, many high-gain antenna beams will be required of the instrument in order to be able to cover all the glistening zones of the GNSS signals. At the same time, the beam patterns must not only be agile but also well known and very stable, placing significant demands on the antenna design and the beam forming network behind it. Another point is that the raw data rate for all these signal sources is extremely high necessitating on-board processing by which very significant data rate reductions can be realized.

    As the use of GNSS signals for remote sensing gains acceptance in the various scientific user communities, demands on the instrument are very likely to change as are the ways of processing and interpreting the data. The GNSS WG will therefore provide a focal point for innovation and excellence in future instrumentation.

    Remote Sensing Instruments and Technologies for Small Satellites

    In the past, the preferred architecture for most spaceborne Earth remote sensing missions was a single large spacecraft platform containing a sophisticated suite of instruments. Following the evolution of the computer from room-sized to pocket-sized, technology has paved the way for a similar shift in satellites.

    Three distinct advantages arise from going ‘small’ to compensate for the loss in mass, power and volume. First, small satellites allow for cheap access to space. By flying as secondary payloads and utilizing excess capacity, launch costs can be reduced by an order of magnitude or more. Second, small satellites allow for rapid development and lower costs through use of common parts/frameworks. Third, small satellites allow for a more relaxed risk posture due to the significantly lower cost, and the capability to distribute the risk to multiple platforms.


    This working group was created to track the various remote sensing instruments and technologies that are being developed for this quickly evolving field. Specifically the needs of various science measurements, add a distinct set of requirements to the instrumentation. A goal of the SmallSat Working Group is therefore to:

    1)      Address these diverse requirements and assesses how they might be met by small satellites

    2)      Identify the needed core technologies to enable and facilitate small satellite mission development

    3)      Bridge the gap between small satellite and instrumentation technologists and remote sensing mission planners


    The broad membership of the SmallSat Working Group can aid in this process, merging the new experience base from the University developments, with the space agencies worldwide. Care must be taken incorporating these practices, as they may be at odds with traditional space qualification grade missions. The co-chairs invite readers who are interested in contributing to contact them for membership details.

  • Members
    Last Name First Name Affiliation Country
    Abshire James B. NASA Goddard Space Flight Center USA
    Akbarifard Saeed Hampa Energy Engineering & Design Company (HEDCO) Iran
    AKÇİT NUHCAN Middle East Technical University Turkey
    Bhateley Pooja VIT University India
    Biswas Sayak Krishna USRA/NASA MSFC USA
    Buck Christopher European Space Agency (ESTEC) The Netherlands
    Camps Adriano UPC Barcelona Spain
    Cardellach Estel Institute of Space Sciences (ICE-CSIC/IEEC) Spain
    Chandrasekar V. (Chandra) Colorado State University USA
    Chen Haonan Colorado State University USA
    Clarizia Maria Paola University of Michigan USA
    Cloude Shane AEL Consultants UK
    Collins Michael University of Calgary Canada
    Das Saurabh Indian Statistical Institute, Kolkata India
    Deshmukh Digamber Adani Power Limited India
    Dong Xiaolong National Space Science Center, Chinese Academy of Sciences China
    Donohue Denis J. Johns Hopkins University USA
    Drinkwater Mark European Space Agency (ESTEC) The Netherlands
    Ediriwickrema Jayantha US Environmental Protection Agency USA
    Farrar Spencer Lee The Aerospace Corporation USA
    Firoozy Nariman University of Manitoba Canada
    Fischman Mark NASA Jet Propulsion Laboratory USA
    Folkman Mark Northrop Grumman Aerospace Systems USA
    Galantowicz John Atmospheric and Environmental Research, Inc. USA
    Garrison James L Purdue University USA
    Gasiewski Albin J. University of Colorado Boulder USA
    Gatlin Jim NASA Goddard Space Flight Center USA
    Gimmestad Gary Georgia Institute of Technology USA
    Hardy Caroline University of Johannesburg South Africa
    Hilliard Larry NASA Goddard Space Flight Center USA
    Im Eastwood Jet Propulsion Laboratory USA
    Johnson Joel The Ohio State University USA
    Kerekes John Rochester Institute of Technology USA
    Khyati Patel Unknown India
    Kim Jung-hyo Airbus Defence and Space Great Britain
    Kleynhans Waldo Council for Scientific and Industrial Research South Africa
    Komar George NASA Headquarters USA
    Kumar Kundan DIT, Dehradun India
    Kunkee David Aerospace Corporation USA
    Lakshmi Venkat University of South Carolina USA
    Lévesque Josée Valcartier Research Center Canada
    Le Vine David NASA Goddard Space Flight Center USA
    Lim Boon NASA Jet Propulsion Laboratory USA
    Lin Chung-Chi European Space Agency (ESTEC) The Netherlands
    Long David Brigham Young University USA
    Lukowski Tom Canada Centre for Remote Sensing Canada
    Luther Charles Office of Naval Research (retired) USA
    Lyles Lionel Southern University USA
    Mannucci Anthony Jet Propulsion Laboratory USA
    Maresi Luca European Space Agency (ESTEC) The Netherlands
    Marquez-Martinez Jose Airbus Defence & Space Ltd. UK
    Marshiana D. Sathyabama University India
    McKague Darren University of Michigan USA
    Migliaccio Maurizio Universita Di Napoli Italy
    Mugada Rajesh Unknown India
    Murillo Luisa Fernanda White Servicio Geológico Colombiano Colombia
    Nair Ranjith Ravindranathan IIT Kanpur India
    Nandakumar Sruthi NSS College of Engineering Palakkad India
    Narayanan Ram Pennsylvania State University USA
    Norton Charles D. NASA Jet Propulsion Laboratory, California Institute of Technology USA
    Okoth Duncan Omondi Mumias Sugar Company Kenya
    Pachghare Dhanashri Govt. College of Engineering, Amravati India
    Pahlevan Nima NASA GSFC USA
    Pailin Srisongkram None Unknown
    Panda Hari Prasad Unknown India
    Patel Galav Nuclear Power Corporation of India India
    Pazmany Andrew ProSensing, Inc. USA
    PB Kannan College of Engineering Kidangoor India
    Piepmeier Jeffrey NASA Goddard Space Flight Center USA
    Purapu mounika siri Sridevi Womens Engineering College India
    Racette Paul E. NASA Goddard Space Flight Center USA
    Ragavi Sri Unknown India
    Rahnemoonfar Maryam Texas A&M University-Corpus Christi USA
    Raju G.Srinivasa Unknown India
    Rall Jonathan NASA Goddard Space Flight Center USA
    Reising Steven Colorado State University USA
    Rodriguez Domingo University of Puerto Rico USA
    Romero Kevin J. Northrop Grumman Aerospace Systems USA
    Rosen Paul NASA Jet Propulsion Laboratory USA
    Ruf Christopher S. University of Michigan USA
    Thangaraju Priya Kavin Engineering and services pvt ltd. India
    Thind Gurman Beriqo Canada
    Thomas Sijo NBTC UAE
    Tjuatja Saibun University of Texas at Arlington USA
    Tzeremes Georgios European Space Agency France
    Salam Abdul University of Nebraska-Lincoln USA
    Salomonson Vincent NASA Goddard Space Flight Center USA
    Sandhya Vanama Vrsiddhartha Engineering College India
    Sarma Bibhuti Numaligarh Refinery Limited bibhuti.sarma@nrl.co.in
    SB Gopalakrishnan Graphene Automation Pvt Ltd India
    Schmugge Thomas New Mexico State University USA
    Sekhon Joe C.I Analytics Canada
    Shimoda Haruhisa National Space Development Agency Japan
    Singh Bhoopendra HPPL India
    Spagnolini Umberto Politecnico di Milano Italy
    St. Germain Karen Naval Research Laboratory USA
    Suess Martin European Space Agency (ESTEC) The Netherlands
    Thompson Willie Morgan State University USA
    Torres Sebastian National Severe Storms Laboratory, University of Oklahoma USA
    Tzeremes Georgios European Space Agency France
    Walker David National Institute for Standards and Technology USA
    Wang James S. NASA Goddard Space Flight Center USA
    Wu Ji National Space Science Center, Chinese Academy of Sciences China
    Younis Marwan German Aerospace Center (DLR) Germany
    Zrnic Dusan National Severe Storms Laboratory, University of Oklahoma USA
  • Technical Resources

    Michael Collins
    Department of Geomatics Engineering
    University of Calgary

    David G. Long
    Department of Electrical & Computer Engineering
    Brigham Young University

    Andrew Pazmany
    Department of Electrical & Computer Engineering
    University of Massachusetts – Amherst

    Ron Saper
    Vantage Point International Inc.
    Ontario, Canada

    Umberto Spagnolini
    Dip. Elettronica e Informazione
    Politecnico di Milano

    Dusan Zrnic
    National Severe Storms Laboratory
    Norman, Oklahoma

    Albin J. Gasiewski
    School of Electrical and Computer Engineering
    Georgia Institute of Technology

    Chung-Chi Lin
    European Space Agency – Earth Observation Group
    Noordwijk, Netherlands

    Reto Peter
    Institute of Applied Physics
    University of Bern, Switzerland

    P. Racette and D.M. Le Vine
    NASA Goddard Space Flight Center
    Greenbelt, Maryland

    Christopher S. Ruf
    Department of Electrical Engineering
    The Pennsylvania State University

    James R. Wang
    NASA Goddard Space Flight Center
    Greenbelt, MD

    Curt H. Davis
    Electrical & Computer Engineering
    University of Missouri-Columbia/Kansas City

    Dan Gibbs
    Strategic Technology Applications Research Center
    The Woodlands, Texas


    Jonathan Rall
    NASA/Goddard Space Flight Center
    Greenbelt, Maryland

    John Kerekes
    Lincoln Laboratory
    Massachusetts Institute of Technology
    Lexington, Massachusetts

    John Kerekes
    Lincoln Laboratory
    Massachusetts Institute of Technology
    Lexington, Massachusetts