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Analysis of micro-Doppler signatures

V.C. Chen, F. Li, S.-S. Ho and H. Wechsler

Abstract: Mechanical vibration or rotation of a target or structures on the target may induce
additional frequency modulations on the returned radar signal which generate sidebands about the
target’s Doppler frequency, called the micro-Doppler effect. Micro-Doppler signatures enable some
properties of the target to be determined. In the paper, the micro-Doppler effect in radar is
introduced and the mathematics of micro-Doppler signatures is developed. Computer simulations
are conducted and micro-Doppler features in the joint time – frequency domain are exploited.

1 Introduction these features. Therefore, high-resolution time –frequency

analysis is necessary for extracting the time-varying
Radar transmits a signal to a target, interacts with the target, Doppler signature [2].
and returns back to the radar. The change in the properties of
the returned signal contains characteristics of interest of the 2 Mathematics of micro-Doppler effect
target. When the transmitted signal of a coherent radar
system hits moving targets, the carrier frequency of the Mathematics of the micro-Doppler effect can be derived by
signal will be shifted, known as the Doppler effect. The introducing vibration or rotation to conventional Doppler
Doppler frequency shift reflects the velocity of the moving analysis. A target can be represented as a set of point
target. Mechanical vibration or rotation of a target, or scatterers. The point scattering model may simplify the
structures on the target, may induce additional frequency analysis while preserving the micro-Doppler effect.
modulations on the returned radar signal, which generate As shown in Fig. 1, the radar is stationary and located at
sidebands about the target’s Doppler frequency, called the the origin Q of the radar co-ordinate system (U, V, W). The
micro-Doppler effect [1, 2]. Micro-Doppler signatures target is described in the attached local co-ordinate system
enable us to determine some properties of the target. (x, y, z) and has translation and rotation with respect to the
The micro-Doppler effect was originally introduced in radar co-ordinates. For the purpose of mathematical
coherent laser radar systems. In a coherent system, the phase analysis, a reference co-ordinate system (X, Y, Z) is
of a signal returned from a target is sensitive to the variation introduced, which has the same translation as the target
in range. In many cases, a target or structures on the target local co-ordinates (x, y, z) but has no rotation with respect to
may have vibrations or rotations in addition to target the radar co-ordinates (U, V, W). Thus, the reference
translation, such as a rotor on a helicopter or a rotating radar co-ordinate system shares the same origin O with the target
antenna on a ship. Motion dynamics of the rotating rotor or local co-ordinates and is assumed to be at a distance R0 from
antenna will produce frequency modulation on the back- the radar.
scattered signals and induce additional Doppler variations to Assume that the azimuth and elevation angle of the target
the translation Doppler shift. From the electromagnetic in the radar co-ordinates (U, V, W) are a and b, respectively,
point of view, when a target has vibration, rotation or other and the unit vector of the radar line of sight (LOS) direction
nonuniform motions, the radar backscattering is subject to is defined by
modulations that constitute features in the signature [3, 4]. n ¼ R0 =kR0 k ¼ ðcos  cos ; sin  cos ; sin ÞT ð1Þ
Micro-Doppler can be regarded as a unique signature of the
target and provides additional information that is com- where kk represents the Euclidean norm.
plementary to existing methods. Suppose the target has a translation velocity v with
To exploit these unique micro-Doppler features, tra- respect to the radar and an angular rotation velocity v;
ditional analysis, such as the Fourier transform, or the which can be represented in the reference co-ordinate
sliding window or short time Fourier transform, may system as v ¼ ðoX ; oY ; oZ ÞT : Thus, a point scatterer P,
not possess the necessary resolution for extracting which is located at r0 ¼ ðX0 ; Y0 ; Z0 ÞT ; at time t ¼ 0 will
move to P0 at time t. The movement can be considered as,
first, a translation from P to P00 with velocity v; or OO0 ¼ vt;
IEE Proceedings online no. 20030743
and then, a rotation from P00 to P0 with an angular velocity
v: The rotation from P00 to P0 can be described by a rotation
doi: 10.1049/ip-rsn:20030743
matrix Rot(†) [5, 6]. At time t, the location of P0 can be
Paper first received 20th December 2002 and in revised form 20th June
calculated as
V.C. Chen is with the Radar Division, Naval Research Laboratory, Code r ¼ O0 P0 ¼ RotðtÞ O0 P00 ¼ RotðtÞr0 ð2Þ
5311, 4555 Overlook Ave. SW, Washington, DC 20375, USA
F. Li, S.-S. Ho and H. Wechsler are with the Department of Computer and the range vector from the radar to the scatterer at P0
Science, George Mason University, Fairfax, VA 22030, USA becomes
IEE Proc.-Radar Sonar Navig., Vol. 150, No. 4, August 2003 271
Fig. 1 Geometry of a radar and a target with translation and rotations

QP 0 ¼ QO þ OO0 þ O0 P0 ¼ R0 þ vt þ r RotðtÞ ¼ expfv

^ tg ð8Þ
¼ R0 þ vt þ RotðtÞr0 ð3Þ where
2 3
Thus, the scalar range is 0 oZ oY
v^ ¼ 4 oZ 0 oX 5
Rt ¼ RðtÞ ¼ kR0 þ vt þ RotðtÞr0 k ð4Þ
oY oX 0 ð9Þ
If the radar transmits a sinusoidal waveform with a carrier
is called the skew symmetric matrix associated with v ¼
frequency f, then the baseband of the returned signal from
ðoX ; oY ; oZ ÞT ; which is the linear transformation that
the point scatterer is a function of Rt
computes the cross product of the vector v with any other
n 2R o vector, as described in the Appendix.
sðtÞ ¼ ðx;y;zÞexp j2f t ¼ ðx;y;zÞexpfjFðRt Þg ð5Þ Thus, the Doppler frequency shift in (7) becomes
where ðx;y;zÞ is the reflectivity function of the point 2f d v^ t 2f
fD ¼ v þ ðe r0 Þ nP ¼ ðv þ v ^ ev^ t r0 ÞT nP
scatterer P described in the target local co-ordinates (x, y, z), c dt c
c is the propagation speed of the electromagnetic wave and 2f 2f
the phase of the baseband signal is ¼ ðv þ v ^ rÞT nP  ðv þ v^ rÞT n ð10Þ
c c
2Rt where, because kR0 k  kvt þ RotðtÞ rk; the direction unit
FðRt Þ ¼ 2f ð6Þ
c vector nP can be approximated by n ¼ R0 =kR0 k  nP
Therefore, the Doppler frequency shift is approximately
By taking the time derivative of the phase, the Doppler
frequency shift induced by the target’s motion can be 2f
obtained fD ¼ ½v þ v r radial ð11Þ
1 dFðRt Þ 2f d where the first term is the Doppler shift due to the translation
fD ¼ ¼ R
2 dt c dt t and the second term is the mathematical expression of the
2f 1 d
¼ ½ðR þ vt þ RotðtÞr0 ÞT
c 2Rt dt 0 2f
fmicroDoppler ¼ ½v r radial ð12Þ
ðR0 þ vt þ RotðtÞr0 Þ c
2f d
¼ v þ ðRotðtÞr0 Þ nP ð7Þ 3 Time – frequency analysis of micro-Doppler
c dt
A common method to analyse a time domain signal is
R þ vt þ RotðtÞr0 transforming it from the time domain to the frequency
nP ¼ 0 domain by using the Fourier transform. The frequency
kR0 þ vt þ RotðtÞr0 k
domain shows the magnitude of different frequencies
is the direction unit vector from the radar to the point contained in the signal over the overall time period the
scatterer at P0 . signal is analysed. When the radar returned signal from a
The angular rotation velocity vector v ¼ ðoX ; oY ; oZ ÞT vibrating or rotating target is viewed in the frequency
defined in the reference co-ordinate system rotates along the domain, its micro-Doppler shifts can be seen by their
unit rotation vector v0 ¼ v=kvk with a scalar angular deviation from the centre frequency of the radar returns.
velocity O ¼ kvk: Assuming the rotational motion at each Frequency-domain signatures provide information about
time interval can be considered to be infinitesimal, the frequency modulations generated by the vibration or
rotation matrix can be written in terms of the matrix v ^ as rotation. Although the frequency spectrum may indicate
272 IEE Proc.-Radar Sonar Navig., Vol. 150, No. 4, August 2003
the presence of micro-Doppler shifts and possibly the 4 Simulation study of micro-Doppler signatures
relative amount of displacement toward each side, because
of the lack of time information, it is not easy to tell the In this Section, we present examples of vibrations and
vibration or rotation rate from the frequency spectrum rotations that can induce micro-Doppler effects. Based on
alone. Therefore, the time –frequency analysis that provides the mathematical analysis, we can calculate theoretical
time-dependent frequency information is more useful and is results of micro-Doppler signatures. Simulation study is
complementary to the existing time-domain or frequency- used to verify the theoretical results.
domain methods. In the simulation, the point scatterer model [10] is used
To analyse the time-varying frequency characteristics for modelling targets because it is simple compared to the
of the micro-Doppler, the radar returned signal should be EM prediction code simulation and it is easy to observe the
analysed in the joint time –frequency domain by applying effect of vibration or rotations and separately study
high-resolution time – frequency transforms. From the individual movements.
joint time – frequency domain signature, the frequency and
the period of vibration or rotation can be found [2, 7].
The direction of movement of the target at a specific 4.1 Micro-Doppler signature of a vibrating
time may also be found by examining the time data and the point scatterer
sign of the micro-Doppler shift caused by the movement of
The geometry of the radar and a vibrating point-scatterer is
the target.
illustrated in Fig. 2. The vibration centre O is stationary with
Time– frequency transforms include linear transforms,
azimuth angle a and elevation angle b with respect to the
such as the short-time Fourier transform (STFT) and
radar. The point-scatterer is vibrating at a vibration
bilinear transforms, such as the Wigner – Ville distribution
frequency fv with maximum amplitude Dv : The azimuth
(WVD). With a time-limited window function, the resol-
and elevation angle of the vibration direction described in
ution of the STFT is determined by the window size.
the reference co-ordinates (X, Y, Z) is P and P ;
A larger window has higher frequency resolution but poor
time resolution. The bilinear WVD has better characteristics
Because of the vibration, the point-scatterer P, which is
of the time-varying spectrum than any linear transform.
initially at time t ¼ 0 located at ðX0 ; Y0 ; Z0 ÞT in (X, Y, Z),
However, it suffers the problem of cross-term interference,
will at time t move to
i.e. the WVD of the sum of two signals is not the sum of
their WVDs [8]. To reduce the cross-term interference, the 2 3 2 3
X X0
kernel-filtered WVD can be used to preserve the useful 6 7 6 7
properties of the time – frequency transform with a slightly 4 5Y ¼ rðtÞ n V þ 4 Y0 5
reduced time – frequency resolution and a largely reduced Z Z0 ð13Þ
cross-term interference. The WVD with a linear
lowpass filter are characterised as the Cohen’s class. In where nV ¼ ½cos P cos P ; sin P cos P ; sin P T is the unit
our micro-Doppler signature study, the smoothed pseudo vector of the vibration direction.
Wigner – Ville distribution is used to reduce the cross-term Therefore, because of the vibration, the velocity of the
interference and achieve higher resolution [9]. scatterer P becomes

Fig. 2 Geometry of radar and vibrating point scatterer; and time – frequency micro-Doppler signatures
a Geometry of a radar and a vibrating point scatterer
b Time–frequency micro-Doppler signature calculated by (15)
c Time– frequency micro-Doppler signature by simulation

IEE Proc.-Radar Sonar Navig., Vol. 150, No. 4, August 2003 273
d d The azimuth and elevation angle of the target in the radar
rðtÞ ¼ rðtÞ nV co-ordinates (U, V, W) is a and b, respectively.
dt dt
Because of the target’s rotation, any point on the target
¼ 2Dv fv cosð2 fv tÞ described in the local co-ordinate system (x, y, z) will move
to a new position in the reference co-ordinate system
ðcos P cos P ; sin P cos P ; sin P ÞT ð14Þ
(X, Y, Z). The new position can be calculated from its initial
From (7) and using RotðtÞr0 ¼ r and nP  n; the micro- position vector multiplied by an initial rotation matrix
Doppler shift induced by the vibration is RotInit determined by Euler angles (f, u, c) [6].
 T In the target local co-ordinate system (x, y, z), when a
2f d
fmicroDoppler ¼ rðtÞ n target rotates about its axes x, y and z with the angular
c dt velocity v ¼ ðox ; oy ; oz ÞT ; a point-scatterer P at r0 ¼
4f fv Dv ðx0 ; y0 ; z0 ÞT in the local co-ordinates will move to a new
¼ cosð2 fv tÞnV n ð15Þ location in the reference co-ordinates (X, Y, Z) described by
c RotInit  r0 : The unit vector of the rotation is defined by
which is a sinusoidal function of time oscillating at the
RotInit  v
vibration frequency. v 0 ¼ ðo 0x ; o 0y ; o 0z ÞT ¼ ð16Þ
Assume the radar operates at f ¼ 10 GHz and a point- kv k
scatterer is vibrating about a centre point at (U0 ¼ 1000 m;
To compute the 3-D rotation matrix Rot(t) in (8), the
V0 ¼ 5000 m; W0 ¼ 5000 m). Thus, the unit vector from the
Rodrigues’ rotation formula [6]
radar to the vibration centre is
1=2 RðtÞ ¼ expðv ^ 0 sin Ot þ v
^ tÞ ¼ I þ v ^ 0 2ð1 cos OtÞ ð17Þ
n ¼ ðU0 ; V0 ; W0 ÞT =ðU02 þ V02 þ W02 Þ
is an efficient method, where I is the identity matrix, the
If the amplitude and frequency of the vibration is scalar angular velocity O ¼ kvk and v ^ 0 is the skew
Dv ¼ 0:01 m and fv ¼ 2 Hz; and the azimuth and elevation symmetric matrix associated with v ¼ ðo 0x ; o 0y ; o 0z ÞT
angle of the vibration direction are P ¼ 208 and P ¼ 108; 2 3
respectively, the theoretical result of the micro-Doppler 0 o 0z o 0y
signature calculated from (15) is shown in Fig. 2b. v^ ¼ 4 o z
0 0
0 o x 5
In our simulation study, the pulse radar with a pulse o 0y o 0x 0 ð18Þ
repetition frequency (PRF) of 2000 is assumed and a total of
2048 pulses are used to generate the micro-Doppler Therefore, in the reference co-ordinate system (X, Y, Z), at
signature of the vibrating point-scatterer. The simulation time t the scatterer P will move from its initial location to a
result is shown in Fig. 2c and is identical to the theoretical new location r ¼ Rott RotInit r0 : According to (12), the
analysis. micro-Doppler frequency shift induced by the rotation is

4.2 Micro-Doppler signature of a rotating 2f 2f T

fmicroDoppler ¼ ½Ov0 r radial ¼ Ov^ 0 r n
target c c
The geometry of the radar and a target having three- 2f 0
¼ Ov ^ Rott RotInit r0 n
dimensional rotations is depicted in Fig. 3. The radar c
co-ordinate system is (U, V, W), the target local co-ordinate 2f O  0 2
system (x, y, z) and the reference co-ordinate system ¼ v^ sin Ot v^ 0 3 cos Ot
(X, Y, Z) is parallel to the radar co-ordinates (U, V, W) and  T
located at the origin of the target local co-ordinates. þv ^ 0 ðI þ v^ 0 2 Þ RotInit r0 n ð19Þ

Fig. 3 Geometry of a radar and a cubic target with eight scatterers

274 IEE Proc.-Radar Sonar Navig., Vol. 150, No. 4, August 2003
rotations is shown in Fig. 4b, which is identical to the
theoretical result.
From the micro-Doppler signature, the period of the
rotation period can be calculated as T ¼ 2=kvk
¼ 1:1547 s. We can see that the micro-Doppler signature
in the time – frequency domain is a sinusoid with initial
phase and amplitude that depends on the initial positions of
the scatterer and the initial Euler angle (f, u, c).

5 Summary

We have shown that the mechanical vibrations or rotations

of a target, or structures on the target, can induce additional
frequency modulation on radar returned signals and
generate the micro-Doppler effect. We derived mathemat-
ical formulas for micro-Doppler, and also simulated micro-
Doppler signatures of targets undergoing vibrations or
rotations. The simulation results confirmed that the
mathematical analysis is valid.

6 Acknowledgments

This work was supported in part by the US Office of Naval

Research and the Missile Defense Agency.

7 References
1 Zediker, M.S., Rice, R.R., and Hollister, J.H.: ‘Method for extending
range and sensitivity of a fiber optic micro-Doppler ladar system and
Fig. 4 Time – frequency micro-Doppler signatures apparatus therefor’, US Patent no. 6,847,817, 8 Dec. 1998
a Calculated from (8) 2 Chen, V.C., and Ling, H.: ‘Time-frequency transforms for radar
imaging and signal analysis’ (Artech House, 2002)
b By simulation 3 Kleinman, R., and Mack, R.B.: ‘Scattering by linearly vibrating
objects’, IEEE Trans. Antennas Propag., 1979, 27, pp. 344– 352
4 Gray, J.E.: ‘The Doppler spectrum of accelerating objects’. Proc. IEEE
Int. Radar Conf., Arlington, VA, USA, 1990, pp. 385 –390
Because the skew symmetric matrix v ^ 0 is defined by the 5 Chen, V.C., and Miceli, W.: ‘Time-varying spectral analysis for radar
^ 0 3 ¼ v
unit vector of the rotation v ; then v ^ 0 and the imaging of maneuvering targets’, IEE Proc. Radar Sonar Navig., 1998,
145, (5), pp. 262–268
rotation-induced micro-Doppler frequency becomes 6 Murray, R.M., Li, Z., and Sastry, S.S.: ‘A mathematical introduction to
robotic manipulation’ (CRC Press, Boca Raton, FL, USA, 1994)
7 Chen, V.C.: ‘Analysis of radar micro-Doppler signature with time-
2f O 0 0  frequency transform’. Proc. 10th IEEE Workshop on Statistical signal
fmicroDoppler ¼ ^ ðv
v ^ sin Ot þ I cos OtÞRotInit r0 radial and array processing, Pocono Manor, PA, USA, August 2000,
pp. 463–466
ð20Þ 8 Cohen, L.: ‘Time-frequency analysis’ (Prentice – Hall, Englewood
Cliffs, NJ, 1995)
9 Auger, F., Flandrin, P., Goncalves, P., and Lemoine, O.: ‘Time-
Assume the radar carrier frequency and the initial location frequency toolbox for use with MATLAB’, 1996
of the target centre is the same as described in Section 4.1. 10 Chen, V.C., and Miceli, W.: ‘Simulation of ISAR imaging of moving
The target is assumed to be a cube that consists of eight targets’, IEE Proc., Radar Sonar Navig., 2001, 148, (3), pp. 160 –166
point-scatterers as illustrated in Fig. 3. The initial Euler
angles are ( ¼ 458; ¼ 458; ¼ 458). If the target rotates 8 Appendix
along the x, y and z axes with an angular velocity
v ¼ ½; ;  T rad/s and initial positions of eight scatterers The cross-product of a vector a ¼ ðax ; ay ; az Þ and a vector
in the target co-ordinate system are b ¼ ðbx ; by ; bz Þ is
2 3
ay bz az by
P1 ¼ ðx ¼ 0:5 m; y ¼ 0:5 m; z ¼ 0:5 mÞ a b ¼ 4 az bx ax bz 5
ax by ay bx
P2 ¼ ðx ¼ 0:5 m; y ¼ 0:5 m; z ¼ 0:5 mÞ
2 32 3
P3 ¼ ðx ¼ 0:5 m; y ¼ 0:5 m; z ¼ 0:5 mÞ 0 az ay bx
P4 ¼ ðx ¼ 0:5 m; y ¼ 0:5 m; z ¼ 0:5 mÞ ¼ 4 az 0 ax 54 by 5 ¼ a^ b
ay ax 0 bz ð21Þ
P5 ¼ ðx ¼ 0:5 m; y ¼ 0:5 m; z ¼ 0:5 mÞ
P6 ¼ ðx ¼ 0:5 m; y ¼ 0:5 m; z ¼ 0:5 mÞ 2 3
P7 ¼ ðx ¼ 0:5 m; y ¼ 0:5 m; z ¼ 0:5 mÞ 0 az ay
a^ ¼ 4 az 0 ax 5
P8 ¼ ðx ¼ 0:5 m; y ¼ 0:5 m; z ¼ 0:5 mÞ ay ax 0 ð22Þ
is called the skew symmetric matrix and
Then, the micro-Doppler frequency shift can be calculated
from (20) and is shown in Fig. 4a. With a PRF of 2000 and a^ ¼ ð^aÞT ð23Þ
2048 pulses transmitted within about 1.024 s. of dwell time,
the simulated result of the micro-Doppler induced by the A rotation matrix that belongs to the special orthogonal 3-D
IEE Proc.-Radar Sonar Navig., Vol. 150, No. 4, August 2003 275
rotation matrix group R3 3 is denoted by v^ ¼ R_ otðtÞRotT ðtÞ ð26Þ
fRot 2 R3 3 jRotT Rot ¼ I; detðRotÞ ¼ þ1g ð24Þ
R_ otðtÞ ¼ o
^ RotðtÞ ð27Þ
By taking a derivative of the constraint RotðtÞRot ðtÞ ¼ I By solving this linear ordinary differential equation (27), we
with respect to time t, we have obtain
RotðtÞ ¼ expfv
^ tgRotð0Þ
R_ otðtÞRotT ðtÞ ¼ ½R_ otðtÞRotT ðtÞ T ð25Þ
Assuming Rotð0Þ ¼ I for the initial condition, we have
This means that the matrix R_ otðtÞRotT ðtÞ 2 R3 3 is a skew RotðtÞ ¼ expfv
^ tg ð28Þ
symmetric matrix. Therefore, we can find a rotation vector
v ¼ ðoX ; oY ; oZ Þ such that the associated skew symmetric The matrix is a 3-D rotation matrix that rotates about the
matrix axis v by kvkt rad.

276 IEE Proc.-Radar Sonar Navig., Vol. 150, No. 4, August 2003