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Radar/EM Wave Queries (reflection and scattering) [HELP!]

  1. Jan 29, 2009 #1
    1. The problem statement, all variables and given/known data

    Hey, I'm writing a report on applications of radar at the moment and just have a few tasty questions about radar/EM wave propagation...

    Firstly, I understand that active radar relies on radio waves scattering off bodies with differing properties of conductivity/dielectric constant (metals for example).

    I’ve read that nowadays, though, alot of radar systems use microwaves instead of radiowaves, so I'm assuming these scatter off the same types of objects?

    Do all forms of EM radiation (radio through to gamma) scatter just depending on properties of conduction? If not, which do?

    Please get back to me ASAP, thanks very much in advance for any help!


    2. Relevant equations - none really needed
    3. The attempt at a solution - already researched theory like skin depth for all EM waves, but just wanted a definite answer
    Last edited: Jan 29, 2009
  2. jcsd
  3. Jan 29, 2009 #2


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    Science Advisor
    Homework Helper

    Microwaves are radio waves with a wavelength of a few cm. There is no real distinction.

    As you get to shorter wavelengths ( > visible ) the mechanisms change a little but fundementally the same principle.
  4. Jan 29, 2009 #3


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    Staff: Mentor

    Welcome to the PF. Microwaves are radio waves. The different RF bands have different designations, based on wavelength:


    The wavelength you use for a particular radar setup will depend on the size of the objects you are trying to detect, and whether line-of-sight or over-the-horizon capability is the goal.
  5. Jan 29, 2009 #4


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    Staff: Mentor

    Okay, this is getting out of hand. I'm going to log off now for a while. mgb is just way too fast for me today.
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