Radar Engineering at CReSIS

Hara Madhav Talasila (CReSIS) viewing the snow he's sounding while operating the snow/Ku radar. By Jefferson Beck of NASA
The South Pole, seen from above. By Hara Talasila
Two CReSIS radar engineers goof around on deployment. One of the two is in a box hafting a big black bag over his head

Not Just Ice

Our systems are primarily for the systematic monitoring of the Earth’s cryosphere, but we are exploring applications like crop and soil moisture monitoring. Because of the unique applications of our systems, we often develop custom subsystems and components to meet tight performance requirements. We package the radars under different form factors to meet particular platform-driven integration restrictions. Our assets are equipped with large phased arrays, hardened for operation on surface and airborne platforms, and capable of ultra-wideband (UWB) operation. We work closely with aerospace engineers, digital signal processing experts, and natural scientists to provide integrated solutions that enable scientific exploration in the Polar Regions and beyond.


Our Radar Team

CReSIS's Radar Engineering team designs, manufactures and deploys our radar systems. The team is lead by Fernando Rodriguez-Morales, Senior Scientist and comprises Undergraduate and Graduate students and staff.
CReSIS graduate student William Blake operates a radar system on board the NASA DC-8 during the fall 2009 OIB field campaign in Antarctica.

Radar Systems

  • The Ku-band radar in use in a snowy landscape


    Collects high-precision surface elevation measurements over polar ice sheets.

  • Snow Radar mounted on an airplane rack for installation onto a plane. The radar is comprised of multiple metal boxes stacked on top of one another with a monitor at the top of the rack.


    The KU CReSIS UWB Snow Radar is a frequency-modulated, continuous-wave system that operates between 2–18 GHz. It is designed for centimeter-scale sounding of snow layering to depths up to ~100 m in the dry snow zone.

  • Close up of transmit section of radar showing output ports for the signal that is sent to the antennas


    The University of Kansas (KU) CReSIS UWB MCoRDS instrument is a high-power, pulsed radar system optimized for measuring ice thickness and mapping subsurface layers to depths exceeding 4 km

  • UWB ice radar equipped on a plane and ready to use


    A 150-600 MHz VHF radar that offer the highest power, finest range resolution, and best cross-track resolution of any of the CReSIS RDSs

  • Copper box with Vivaldi antennas


    An ultra-wideband radar that maps internal layers in the upper few hundred meters of the ice sheet and sounds shallow ice caps and ice shelves. It has also been shown to measure the bottom melt rate of ice shelves.

  • Wheat radar and cart being pushed through a wheat test field in western Kansas.


    2-18 GHz (FMCW) radar designed to efficiently and non-destructively measure architecture parameters of wheat canopies for breeding applications.

  • complete radar box


    The HF radar sounder is a compact ~2.5 kg system that operates at two frequency bands, 14 & 35 MHz.

  • The Snow Radar hardware


    This radar system is capable of measuring water content in the topsoil. The radar radiates microwaves over a 2 to 18 GHz (Gigahertz) ultra-wideband frequency range, with a power of 1mW.