(Coined word for radio detection and ranging.) An electronic instrument used for the detection and ranging of distant objects of such composition that they scatter or reflect radio energy.
A radar consists of a transmitter, receiver, antenna, display, and associated equipment for control and signal processing. The most common radars are monostatic radars, which use the same antenna for both transmission and reception. These radars depend on backscattering to produce a detectable echo from a target. Bistatic radars have the transmitter and its antenna at one location and the receiver and its antenna at a remote location. These radars depend upon forward scattering to produce a detectable signal. Radio energy emitted by the transmitter and focused by the antenna of a monostatic radar propagates outward through the atmosphere in a narrow beam. Objects lying in the path of the beam reflect, scatter, and absorb the energy. A small portion of the reflected and scattered energy, called the target signal, travels back along the same path through the atmosphere and is intercepted by the receiving antenna. The time delay between the transmitted signal and the target signal is used to determine the distance or slant range of the target from the radar. The direction in which the focused beam is pointing at the instant the target signal is received (i.e., the azimuth and elevation angles of the antenna) determine the direction and height of the target. This information is presented visually as echoes on different types of radar displays. Because hydrometeors scatter radio energy, weather radars, operating in certain radar frequency bands, can detect the presence of precipitation and other weather phenomena at distances up to several hundred kilometers from the radar, depending upon meteorological conditions and the type of radar. MST radars and wind profilers, which operate at longer wavelengths than weather radars, are able to detect echoes from optically clear air that are caused by spatial fluctuations of refractivity. Additional information provided by a radar about a target may include the radial velocity or rate of change of range, as measured by a Doppler radar, or the depolarizing characteristics of the target, as measured by a polarimetric radar.