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DEVELOPMENT AND APPLICATION OF SMALL SPACEBORNE SYNTHETIC APERTURE RADARS
interfere with the international use of scientific data. For example, data availability agreements must be clear and must be honored, and calibration and validation plans must be negotiated formally, not left to the good will of participating space programs and scientists.
In addition to the coordination of missions launched by different countries, it is worth exploring cooperation in international joint missions, either by combining assets in a single satellite or by flying a formation of separate satellites designed for this purpose. Such programs will have to be approached on the basis of technology exchange among equals and with integrated science teams.
The foregoing strategic elements support consideration of a small SAR program. They result from the committee's assessment of the value added by a multifrequency small SAR, as opposed to a single-frequency system, and other issues raised in this report. Recent technological advances can significantly reduce the size and cost of spaceborne SAR. Interferometric data from a small SAR would be of high value to ESE, but a vigorous research and analysis program is necessary to nurture nascent applications. Carefully constraining mission focus can reduce end-to-end system complexity and cost. The commercial interests of potential small SAR industrial partners may require a multifrequency enhancement of the LightSAR baseline design. The added scientific value of such an enhanced capability should be ascertained by NASA. Policies must be clearly defined that preserve the interests of all partners in a small SAR mission. The discussions in this report of new technologies, advances in data capture and processing, the advantages of SAR over electro-optical imaging, and potential trade-offs to reduce weight led the committee to conclude that focused applications of a multifrequency small SAR mission could provide more and better information and understanding of earth, ocean, and atmospheric processes at lower costs than heretofore possible.