The effectiveness of radar interferometric techniques in non-urban areas can often be compromised due to the lack of stable natural targets. This drawback can be partially compensated through the installation of reference targets, characterized by a bright and stable radar response. The installation of passive corner reflectors (PCR) often represents a valid aid, but these objects are usually cumbersome, and suffer from severe weather conditions; furthermore, the installation of a PCR can be difficult and costly, especially in places with hard accessibility. Active reflectors (AR) represent a less cumbersome alternative to PCRs, while still providing a stable phase response. This paper describes the design, implementation, and test of an AR prototype, designed to operate with the Sentinel-1 synthetic aperture radar (SAR), aimed at providing a fair performance/cost benefit. These characteristics, obtained through a tradeoff between the use of off-the-shelf components and a simple architecture, can make the setup of a dense network (i.e., tens of devices) in the monitored areas feasible. The paper reports the design, implementation, and the analysis of different tests carried out in a laboratory, and in a real condition in the field, to illustrate AR reliability and estimate its phase stability.
Keywords: SAR; backscattering; deformation; interferometry; radar reflectors.