Radar is used to detect the presence of moving or stationary objects at a distance by utilizing radio waves. It is also used to detect the speed of a moving object, to identify the type and bearing of an aircraft and to create detailed topographic maps.
Aircraft employ radar as a means of warning against obstacles and other aircraft that are on their flight path. Additionally, radar determines the aircraft's altitude with great precision. Similar to aircraft, naval vessels use radar to identify the bearing and distance of other ships, in addition to using it to navigate and determine their position relative to the nearest shore or other fixed points of reference, such as islands or buoys.
Radar is also employed for military-related purposes, such as target-acquisition systems that are used in various missile types, including air-to-air, air-to-surface and surface-to-air missiles. Furthermore, it is used for coastal surveillance and as part of the missile-guidance systems that are utilized by military aircraft.
Radar can also be used for biological research, particularly when tracking the migration patterns of birds and insects. NASA’s Kennedy Space Center in Florida utilizes radar to detect the presence of birds near the launching pads to prevent accidents. In meteorology, radar is used to monitor wind and precipitation, which allows meteorologists to track tornadoes, hurricanes and thunderstorms.
The CloudSat satellite uses radar to measure and profile clouds, to detect snowfall and light rain over polar regions and form estimates regarding precipitation.