This paper deals with bistatic subsurface probing of a horizontally layered dielectric half-space by means of ultra-wideband electromagnetic waves. In particular, the main objective of this work is to present a new method for the solution of the two-dimensional back-scattering problem arising when a pulsed electromagnetic signal impinges on a non-uniform dielectric half-space; this scenario is of interest for ground penetrating radar (GPR) applications. For the analytical description of the signal generated by the interaction of the emitted pulse with the environment, we developed and implemented a novel time-domain version of the coupled-wave Wentzel-Kramers-Brillouin approximation. We compared our solution with finite-difference time-domain (FDTD) results, achieving a very good agreement. We then applied the proposed technique to two case studies: in particular, our method was employed for the post-processing of experimental radargrams collected on Lake Chebarkul, in Russia, and for the simulation of GPR probing of the Moon surface, to detect smooth gradients of the dielectric permittivity in lunar regolith. The main conclusions resulting from our study are that our semi-analytical method is accurate, radically accelerates calculations compared to simpler mathematical formulations with a mostly numerical nature (such as the FDTD technique), and can be effectively used to aid the interpretation of GPR data. The method is capable to correctly predict the protracted return signals originated by smooth transition layers of the subsurface dielectric medium. The accuracy and numerical efficiency of our computational approach make promising its further development.
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