SAR Milestone Discussion
I too agree the proposal is worthy of a milestone, but I think the plaque write-up needs some changes and additions, to make it more understandable to non-technical readers: First, spell out the acronym SAR (I note many proposals use too acronyms). Then add a brief introduction such as "The Synthetic Aperture Array was conceived in 1951, but it wasnt until the McDonald... (MDA) development of digital processing algorithms, using a general-purpose computer,in Nov 1978,that widespread adoption of the SAR concept was made possible. ..." Why this intro? Without it, one can get the impression that MDA invented SAR in 1978.
Would the following revised citation satisfy your concerns?
First Digitally Processed Image from a Spaceborne Synthetic Aperture Radar, 1978
In November 1978, a team from MacDonald, Dettwiler and Associates Ltd. (MDA) became the first to use a digital processor to reconstruct an image from Seasat-A, the first civilian spaceborne synthetic aperture radar (SAR). MDA engineers subsequently developed three of the four most important SAR processing algorithms that have replaced the optical processing methods that were used previously. (70 words) - - -
1. The term Synthetic Aperture Radar is clearly stated in the title. I'm not certain why it necessary to restate it in full in the text given that space is limited, but I'm willing to insert it if you feel this is important.
2. The claims made in the citation are very carefully worded. "First digitally processed image" and "first to use a digital processor to reconstruct an image" are very precise statements of the accomplishment. I can't see how any reasonable person would interpret this as implying that MDA invented the SAR concept.
(If we had claimed "First Image" or "first to reconstruct an image", the citation would indeed be ambiguous and, indeed, misleading concerning MDA's contribution. However, this is not the case.)
3. Having said that, we can replace
"and the digital processors used by many Canadian, Japanese, European and American spaceborne SAR missions."
"that have replaced the optical processing methods that were used previously."
but I'm not certain that it would be worth deleting the previous material to make this addition.
I've sent the above by email to Mischa and Irving and cc'd Dave Bart, the History Committee advocate with whom I worked to clarify and strengthen the original proposal, and Elizabeth Johnston, in order to ensure a timely response.