The NASA Search and Rescue Mission was originated to develop a space-based emergency beacon detection system. The Sarsat system, along with its Russian counterpart -- Cospas, is highly successful and credited with the saving of over 8,000 lives worldwide during its 16 years of operation. Now, new techniques are emerging which may make it possible to locate downed aircraft wreckage from space without the need for a functioning emergency beacon. This paper reviews existing space and airborne systems and discusses the potential for space borne application of recent advances in techniques for interferometric SAR, coherent change detection, real time processing and polarimetric ATR to the search and rescue problem.
Ronald G. Wallace,
David W. Affens,
Samuel W. McCandless,
"Search and rescue from space", Proc. SPIE 3371, Automatic Target Recognition VIII, (18 September 1998); doi: 10.1117/12.323835; https://doi.org/10.1117/12.323835