What is the true difference between radar and sonar? My understanding is that radar uses a reflected EM wave, while sonar uses a compression (shock wave) of the material it's in. (It compresses water, and then looks to see if any of the shock wave is reflected back?)

If that is true, than any spacecraft with one of these devices would be better off using radar to track objects in space?

  • $\begingroup$ If the spacecraft has only one device, it will have radar; so I don't understand your question. $\endgroup$ – LDC3 Oct 1 '14 at 3:48
  • $\begingroup$ But if the spacecraft designers had a choice between a sonar device and a radar system, they should use radar. (Because sonar cannot work without something to travel in. Or for the same reason you can't hear sound in space.) Right? $\endgroup$ – CoilKid Oct 1 '14 at 3:53
  • $\begingroup$ Yes. Is that your question? $\endgroup$ – LDC3 Oct 1 '14 at 3:55
  • $\begingroup$ Yup, but that is why I cannot use it right? That is the difference between radar and sonar? $\endgroup$ – CoilKid Oct 1 '14 at 3:56
  • 2
    $\begingroup$ Sonar might use an ordinary sound wave and not a shock wave, but otherwise yes, that is the difference. $\endgroup$ – The Photon Oct 1 '14 at 5:03

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