94024 - Principles of Radio Localization and Remote Sensing (2nd cycle)

Course Unit Page


This teaching activity contributes to the achievement of the Sustainable Development Goals of the UN 2030 Agenda.

Affordable and clean energy Sustainable cities Climate Action Life on land

Academic Year 2021/2022

Learning outcomes

At the end of the course the student: - knows the fundamental notions of advanced electromagnetism necessary to understand the interaction of electromagnetic waves with the environment for remote sensing applications - knows the principles for extracting information on the position and physical characteristics of objects through electromagnetic waves that propagate in the environment and interact with them. - knows the principles, architecture and operation of the main localization and remote sensing systems and has practical experience of a radiometer created ad hoc and analyzed during laboratory exercises. - knows examples of the interaction of electromagnetic waves with the environment, including solar radiation, and the application of remote sensing techniques to the control of climate and environmental changes.

Course contents

The course is advised for students interested in the issues of environmental monitoring and climate change, and in particular its frequency is strongly recommended for all students of the ICT FOR CLIMATE curriculum.

The course is divided into two main themes: remote sensing and radio localization (positioning), plus a few hours of recalls and foundations on basic topics, which will be carried out together with the topics that require such knowledge. During the course practical exercises on microwave radiometry will be carried out, as well as in-depth seminars on localization applications and airport radio assistance.


PART 0: Recalls and Foundations (10h)
Recall on the basic characteristics of the antennas. Antenna linear arrays: estimation of the direction of arrival of the radio signal by arrays. The RADAR equation: Monostatic and bistatic Radar Cross Section.

Principles and methods for remote sensing. Electromagnetic wave information acquisition techniques: passive and active remote sensing, cooperative techniques. Interaction of electromagnetic radiation with the atmosphere and with natural surfaces (vegetation, water, soil). Multispectrality and spectral signature: examples. Satellite remote sensing: historical notes, basic concepts on the composition of a remote sensing system for Earth observation.

Main radiometric characteristics: power spectral density, irradiance, radiance, brightness. Outline of the corresponding photometric characteristics. Electromagnetic emission of the bodies: black body, gray body, emissivity and brightness temperature. Solar radiation: solar constant, diffusion and absorption in the atmosphere, insolation, index of clarity, reflectivity of surfaces (albedo), absorption and thermal re-emission. Impact of global warming and monitoring of climate change: mention of the effects of "heat island" in an urban environment.

Foundations of passive remote sensing: the microwave radiometer. Optical radiometers and thermal imaging cameras. Fundamental types of electromagnetic sensors: thermopile and bolometric detectors; MOS and charge coupled (CCD) imaging sensors.


Foundations of active remote sensing. Description of the main radar architectures: pulsed radar, continuous-wave (CW) radar, frequency-modulated continous wave (FMCW) radar, pulse-Doppler radar, pulse compression (chirp) radar. Land and sea surface detection: radar scatterometers. Radar for high resolution imaging applications on airborne and satellite platforms: Side-Looking Radar, Synthetic Aperture Radar (SAR), differential interferometry. Survey of the state of soils (temperature, humidity) and of marine surfaces (water temperature, health of phytoplankton), erosion of coastal areas, support for precision agriculture and viticulture. The weather radar: detection of rain and snow, measurement of wind speed. Use of meteorological radars for nowcasting, the detection of hydrometeors and the prevention of catastrophes (floods, hurricanes, floods, landslides).

Remote sensing systems based on active optical sensors: Lidar and laser scanners, and their use for the detection of pollutants in the atmosphere and measurement of greenhouse gases. 

Part 2: POSITIONING (20h)
Radiolocation principles: general structure and figures of merit of a radiolocation system, classification of radiolocation methods (Angle of Arrival, Time of Arrival, Time Difference of Arrival, etc.), impact of real propagation on the accuracy of the estimate.

Main technologies for radiolocation.
Introduction to the Global Navigation Satellite System (GNSS): GPS, GALILEO, GLONASS. GPS operating principles. Architecture of GNSS systems and possible applications.

Radiolocation techniques based on cellular networks. Methods based on radio maps and fingerprinting.

Indoor location: use of WiFi, beacons, wireless sensor networks. High precision localization through UWB systems (outline).

Hybrid techniques: assisted-GPS, wifi + barometer, Pedestrian Dead Reckoning through inertial sensors. Proximity detection via Bluetooth low-energy (BLE): the case of the Immuni app.

Air navigation applications: primary and secondary radar, VOR and DME, radio aids for landing (ILS). Use of GNSS for air navigation.


The teacher will provide students with lesson notes and powerpoint slides. All material will be made available on the Moodle/VIRTUALE platform.

Recommended textbooks:

  • Brivio P.A., Lechi G., Zilioli E.: Principi e metodi di telerilevamento. Citta' Studi Edizioni, 2006.
  • W. G. Rees, "Physical Principles of Remote Sensing", 3rd Edition, Cambridge University Press, 2012.
  • F. T. Ulaby, D. G. Long, "Microwave Radar and Radiometric Remote Sensing", Artech House, 2015.
  • R. M. Rauber, S. W. Nesbitt, "Radar Meteorology - A first course" Wiley, 2018.
  • P. Misra, P. Enge, “Global Positioning System: Signals, Measurements, and Performance (Revised Second Edition)”, Ganga-Jamuna Press, 2012.

Further texbooks for consultation and study in depth of specific topics:

  • G. Falciasecca, "Dopo Marconi il diluvio. Evoluzione nell'infosfera", Ed. Pendragon, 2016.
  • Merrill Skolnik, "Radar Handbook", Third Edition, McGraw-Hill, 2008.
  • F. Berizzi, "I sistemi di telerilevamento Radar", Apogeo, 2010.
  • C. Elachi, J. Van Zyl, "Introduction to the physics and techniques of Remote Sensing", 2nd Edition, Wiley, 2006.
  • Kuo-Nan Liou, "An Introduction to Atmospheric Radiation", Academic Press, 1980.
  • P. Dong, Q. Chen, "LiDAR Remote Sensing and Applications", CRC Press, 2018
  • Claus Weitkamp, "LIDAR : range-resolved optical remote sensing of the atmosphere", Springer, 2005.
  • Vosselman G., Maas H.: Airborne and Terrestrial Laser Scanning, Whittles ed., 2010.
  • A.I. Kozlov, L.P. Ligthart, A.I. Logvin, "Mathematical and physical modelling of microwave scattering and polarimetric remote sensing", Kluwer Academic Publishers, 2004.
  • B. Hofmann-Wellenhof, H. Lichtenegger E. Wasle, "GNSS – Global Navigation Satellite Systems. GPS, GLONASS, Galileo, and more", Springer, 2007.
  • P. D. Groves, "Principles of GNSS, Inertial, and Multisensor Integrated Navigation Systems", Artech House, 2008.
  • S. Frattasi, F. Della Rosa, "Mobile Positioning and Tracking - From Conventional to Cooperative Techniques" 2nd Edition, Wiley, 2017.
  • D. Dardari, E. Falletti, M. Luise, "Satellite and Terrestrial Radio Positioning Techniques: A Signal Processing Perspective", Academic Press, 2012.

Teaching methods

The course includes lectures given by the teacher and numerical exercises, plus a practical experience on the use of a microwave radiometer.

Periodically during the course some lessons are carried out interactively (or in flipped classroom mode), raising questions that students must answer in relation to the program seen up to that moment.

During the course at least one seminar will be held by exponents of the industrial world, operating in the field of remote sensing and processing of satellite data, and radio navigation.

Assessment methods

The final assessment consists in an oral examination divided into 3 questions, the first of which must be answered by the candidate in written form. The questions relate to the overall course program.

The first question (written) is aimed at solving a project / numerical problem and normally must be carried out in a maximum time of one hour. The use of books, handouts and calculation tools is allowed. The solution of the problem by the candidate is briefly discussed in the oral interview with the teacher who communicates the general evaluation to the student, before proceeding with the 2 following oral questions.

The final marks derive from the overall (average) evaluation of the answers to the 3 questions. Honors are given at the discretion of the teacher if the candidate answers all 3 questions correctly and without significant errors or inaccuracies, and also in the interview demonstrates an excellent capacity for critical analysis and an excellent ability to express the topics covered.


To be able to take the exam it is mandatory to register on ALMAEsami.


Criteria for the assigmnent of the final marks:

Poor knowledge of the topics of the course, inadequate capacity for critical analysis and analysis / solution of practical problems; incorrect or inappropriate expression will result in a negative evaluation. In case of insufficient marks, students will have to repeat the test.

Preparation on a very limited number of topics covered in the course and analytical skills that emerge only with the help of the teacher, expressed in an overall correct language → 18-19;

Preparation on a limited number of topics covered in the course and ability to autonomous analysis only on purely executive matters, expression in correct language → 20-24;

Preparation on a large number of topics covered in the course, ability to make autonomous choices of critical analysis, mastery of specific terminology → 25-29;

Excellent ability to critically analyze the topics covered and excellent ability to express and argue; excellent competence and ability to apply knowledge to practical problems independently → 30-30L.

Teaching tools

Slides of lessons, lecture notes, blackboard and projector / camera. Recording of the lessons with the possibility of listening to the contents of the lessons remotely.

Office hours

See the website of Enrico Maria Vitucci