Fully Focused SAR Altimetry: Theory and Applications
IEEE Transactions on Geoscience and Remote Sensing
In this paper, we introduce the concept, develop the theory, and demonstrate the advantages of fully focused coherent processing of pulse echoes from a nadir-looking pulse-limited radar altimeter. This process, similar to synthetic aperture radar (SAR) imaging systems, reduces the along-track resolution down to the theoretical limit equal to half the antenna length. We call this the fully focused SAR (FF-SAR) altimetry processing. The technique is directly applicable to SAR altimetry missions
... ch as CryoSat-2, Sentinel-3, or Sentinel-6/Jason-CS. The footprint of an FF-SAR altimeter measurement is a narrow strip on the surface, which is pulse limited across track and SAR focused along track. Despite the asymmetry of the altimeter footprint, the fully focused technique may be useful for applications in which one needs to separate specific targets within highly heterogeneous scenes, such as in the case of sea ice lead detection, hydrology, and coastal altimetry applications. In addition, over rough homogeneous surfaces, such as the ocean or ice sheets, the improved multilooking capability of FF-SAR leads to a significant increase in the effective number of looks with respect to the delay/Doppler processing, resulting in better geophysical parameter estimation. The proposed processing technique was verified by processing full bit rate CryoSat-2 SAR mode data over the Svalbard transponder. Hydrology, sea ice, and open ocean applications are also demonstrated in this paper, showing the improvement of this technique with respect to conventional and delay/Doppler altimetry.