On our spherical planet, it is highly advantageous for modern navies to have airborne radar, because it can seem much further than even the best ship-based radar, simply due to the greater distance to the horizon.

Suppose a modern navy were operating on a flat world, with conditions otherwise similar to Earth. In particular, same atmospheric composition, density and scale height. In such circumstances, the effective range of radar would presumably be limited partly by the inverse square law and mainly by atmospheric absorption.

How much further would ship-based radar be able to see, in such circumstances?

  • 1
    $\begingroup$ Have you looked at how far airborne radars can "see" now? And "see" what - ships, missiles, people...? $\endgroup$ – KerrAvon2055 Mar 31 at 22:13
  • $\begingroup$ I would imagine the short answer would be "indefinitely" and just depend on how sensitive the equipment you have is $\endgroup$ – Madman Mar 31 at 22:18
  • 1
    $\begingroup$ When you say 'a modern navy' do you mean one without any specific adaptations to such a world? (Because there are many technologies we already possess which could be developed to "see" further.) $\endgroup$ – A Rogue Ant. Mar 31 at 22:20
  • $\begingroup$ @Draft85 Good point! I had initially been thinking of just taking equipment from our world as is, but of course a navy in such a world would try to adapt to it. What technologies are you thinking of? $\endgroup$ – rwallace Mar 31 at 22:23
  • 2
    $\begingroup$ inverse square law - nope! Radar scales with the 4th power. For the forward way, only 1/d^2 reaches the target and for the return only 1/d^2 of that energy is radiated back. Energy is definitely an issue here. $\endgroup$ – Franky Apr 9 at 9:14

Not As far as light could possibly perpetrate

On earth, we can receive signals as far as the observable universe according to current physics could allow, eg CMB. This being in turn solely depends on how sensitive the equipment you have access to is. As atmospheric scattering is one of the things which throw off data of earth-based astronomy, you do have a definite limit for a radar pulse of individual frequency and amplitude, but by just,MORE POWER(If you don't mind vaporizing the immediate atmosphere) that could be overcome. Meaning that really, the limit to you're radar is really just the output of your generation and the sensitivity of your receiver, which would put them at odds and create some interesting dynamics. If you had radar power stations, power by something along the line of nuclear reactors you could probably use even just use optical radar to map the surface of you're flat earth down to the buildings present like orbital satellites do on earth. This does mean airborne radar is valuable, if only for mapping. You probably could also track large groups of humans moving with that method as well. You would have to do it in segments as optical radar can' track moving objects, but still, and that's moving objects with high accuracy, they'd probably just be something along the line of shapeless blobs, Or, In short, once you remove the curvature there is no real limit. And so, yeah.

  • $\begingroup$ This answer just bad, and I haven't been on the forum for too long(I think the new person tag disappeared yesterday, do I delete the answer or heavily edit it or what? I don't know what to d0 $\endgroup$ – Madman Apr 1 at 1:14
  • 3
    $\begingroup$ There are other problems than just power generation. One is that huge radar dishes are dangerous. If you have a radar that can detect a person at 10,000km, it's going to flash boil one at 1km. And what about obstacles? Sure, over an ocean maybe your radar can see 10,000km, but can it see through the mountain 20km to the north? I doubt it. $\endgroup$ – Ryan_L Apr 1 at 2:28

Your Answer

By clicking “Post Your Answer”, you agree to our terms of service, privacy policy and cookie policy

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.