Novel specular meteor radar systems using coherent MIMO techniques to study the mesosphere and lower thermosphere
Typical specular meteor radars (SMRs) use one transmitting antenna and at least a five-antenna interferometric configuration on reception to study the mesosphere and lower thermosphere (MLT) region. The interferometric configuration allows the measurement of the angle-of-arrival (AOA) of the detected meteor echoes, which in turn is needed to derive atmospheric parameters (e.g., mean winds, momentum fluxes, temperatures, and neutral densities). Recently, we have shown that coherent MIMO configurations in atmospheric radars, i.e., multiple input (transmitters) and multiple output (receivers), with proper diversity in transmission can be used to enhance interferometric atmospheric and ionospheric observations. In this study we present novel SMR systems using multiple transmitters in interferometric configuration, each of them employing orthogonal pseudorandom coded transmitted sequences. After proper decoding, the angle of departure (AOD) of the detected meteor echoes with respect to the transmitter site are obtained at each receiving antenna. We present successful bistatic implementations of (1) five transmitters and one receiver using coded continuous wave (CW) (MISO-CW), and (2) five transmitters and five receivers using coded CW (MIMO-CW). The latter system allows simultaneous independent observations of the specular meteor trails with respect to the transmitter (AOD) and with respect to the receiver (AOA). The quality of the obtained results is evaluated in terms of the resulting mean winds, the number of detections and the daily diffusion trail vs. altitude behavior. We show that the proposed configurations are good alternatives to explore the MLT region. When combined with multi-static approaches, they can increase the number of meteor detections, thereby improving the quality of atmospheric estimates and allowing the measurement of new atmospheric parameters (e.g., horizontal divergence, vorticity), The use of multiple collocated transmitters for interferometric AOD determination makes building a multi-static radar network easier logistically, as only one receiver per receiving site antenna is sufficient.