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MELISSA, a new class of ground based InSAR system. An example of application in support to the Costa Concordia emergency

Ground Based Interferometric Synthetic Aperture Radars (GB-InSAR) have proved to be fully operational tools for the monitoring of ground displacement and structural deformation. The main limiting factor of the existing systems is the time to acquire a single image, typically ranging from few seconds to few minutes. This paper presents the validation and the operational use of a new system – Mimo Enhanced Linear Short SAr (MELISSA), belonging to a new class of GB-InSAR devices. MELISSA is based on a Multiple Input Multiple Output Synthetic Aperture Radar (MIMO SAR) and is capable of acquiring and processing image data at an unprecedented high speed. A configuration of the system acquiring a 0.96 m synthetic aperture and 260 m swath image in 2.6 ms was tested in a controlled environment. The results prove its ability to reach an image refreshing time smaller than 4 ms and Line-Of-Sight (LOS) displacement accuracies better than 10 um. Thus, MELISSA was able to help with the monitoring of the Costa Concordia ship movements in the immediate aftermath of grounding during both the rescue operations and subsequent wreckage removal. The accurate displacement measurements of specific points of the structure are presented in a global interferogram sequence (2-D displacement maps of the whole structure). The collected data contributed to a precise wreck deformation reconstruction. MELISSA’s ability to update the information almost every second has proven to be extremely reassuring as early warning on potentially catastrophic movements.