Polarimetry With Phased Array Antennas: Sensitivity and Polarimetric Performance Using Unpolarized Sources for Calibration
Journal article, 2012
Polarimetric phased arrays require a calibration method that allows the system to measure the polarization state of the received signals. In this paper, we assess the polarimetric performance of two commonly used calibration methods that exploit unpolarized calibration sources. The first method obtains a polarimetrically calibrated beamforming solution from the two dominant eigenvectors of the measured signal covariance matrix. We demonstrate that this method is sensitivity equivalent to the theoretical optimal method, but suffers from an ambiguity that has to be resolved by additional measurements on (partially) polarized sources or by exploiting the intrinsic polarimetric quality of the antenna system. The easy-to-implement bi-scalar approach assumes that the feed system consists of two sets of orthogonally oriented antenna elements, each associated with one polarization. We assess its sensitivity and polarimetric performance over a wide field-of-view (FoV) using simulations of a phased array feed system for the Westerbork Synthesis Radio Telescope. Our results indicate that the sensitivity loss can be limited to 4.5% and that the polarimetric performance over the FoV is close to the best achievable performance. The latter implies that the intrinsic polarimetric quality of the antennas remains a crucial factor despite the development of novel polarimetric calibration methods.
far-field radiation pattern
understanding radio polarimetry
phased array antennas