• 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.

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    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. Lidars
    4. Optical Instruments
    5. Global Navigation Satellite Systems (GNSS)

    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 fulfil 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.

    Lidar Working Group

    To be Determined

    Optical Instrument Working Group

    Mission & Vision: The IFT-TC Passive Optical Instruments Working Group provides a forum for international collaboration on advanced space-based passive sensing techniques including high resolution multispectral imaging, hyperspectral imaging, and polarimetric imaging from x-ray to the far infrared wavelengths. The focus of the working group is on new technologies and concepts in sensor system design, optics, structures, filters, gratings, interferometers, focal plane arrays, electronics, processors, and radiometric calibration. Our goal is to bring together diverse ideas and capabilities and match them with new measurement needs and mission requirements, thereby improving scientific value for Earth, space, and planetary missions, enhancing the welfare of our global community.

    Trends in Instrumentation: Several trends in instrument technology are evident and are offered below:

    Trend Description
    Increased Spectral Resolution Multispectral color imaging has moved to hyperspectral imaging via grating and Fourier Transform instruments
    Improved Radiometric Accuracy Accurate long-term measurements for climatology, Earth science drive a need for improved calibration sources, techniques, and sensor designs
    Lightweight, lower cost, rapid to field systems Size, weight, power, cost, and schedule always limit performance of space-based optical systems. New materials, sensor designs, processes can result in lighter, less expensive sensors that may be rapidly fielded
    Precision Polarimetry Accurate polarimetric measurements of Earth, planetary, and space scenes enhances science value and improves radiometric performance
    Wider Field of View Larger format focal plane arrays, wide field of view optics designs improve scene coverage
    Extended Spectral Range Measurements across the electro-optical spectrum from X-ray to far IR maximizes the available data and improves science products
    Handling & Processing Data sets from optical instruments are increasing rapidly in size/volume and techniques for handling and processing the data are needed
    On-board Retrieval Algorithms Spectral sensors and methods used to remotely retrieve quantitative physical and chemical characteristics of vegetation and atmosphere have substantial advanced. Better understanding of the physics for retrieving physical characteristics from the observation can improve the scientific return in optical remote sensing over the past few decades. On-board data processing may be used to significantly limit the amount of data to be delivered on ground.

    Technology Challenges: The need for improved passive optical sensing drives a broad set of instrument technology needs, ranging from optical designs to detectors, materials to components and manufacturing techniques, algorithms to models. By sharing ideas via the Passive Optical Instruments Working Group, members can help establish solutions to these technology challenges.

    Market Pull: Advances in optical technologies happen when scientific/mission needs are identified and connected to the potential of each technological opportunity. This working group will help monitor market trends and facilitate linking those trends to innovative ideas in optical instrumentation.

    Global Navigation Satellite System (GNSS) Working Group

    The purpose of the Global Navigation Satellite System 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

  • Members
    Last Name First Name Affiliation Country
    Abshire James B. NASA Goddard Space Flight Center USA
    AKÇİT NUHCAN Middle East Technical University Turkey
    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
    Kerekes John Rochester Institute of Technology USA
    Khyati Patel India
    Kim Jung-hyo Airbus Defence and Space Great Britain
    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
    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
    McKague Darren University of Michigan USA
    Migliaccio Maurizio Universita Di Napoli Italy
    Mugada Rajesh India
    Murillo Luisa Fernanda White Servicio Geológico Colombiano Colombia
    Nair Ranjith Ravindranathan IIT Kanpur 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
    Pahlevan Nima NASA GSFC USA
    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 India
    Rahnemoonfar Maryam Texas A&M University-Corpus Christi USA
    Rall Jonathan NASA Goddard Space Flight Center USA
    Reising Steven Colorado State University USA
    Rodriguez Domingo University of Puerto Rico USA
    Ruf Christopher S. University of Michigan USA
    Thangaraju Priya Kavin Engineering and services pvt ltd. India
    Thind Gurman India
    Thomas Sijo NBTC UAE
    Tjuatja Saibun University of Texas at Arlington USA
    Salam Abdul University of Nebraska-Lincoln USA
    Salomonson Vincent NASA Goddard Space Flight Center USA
    Sandhya Vanama Vrsiddhartha Engineering College India
    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
    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
    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