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Remote Sens. 2014, 6(6), 4831-4869; doi:10.3390/rs6064831

Investigating the Performance of Four Empirical Cross-Calibration Methods for the Proposed SWOT Mission

1
Collecte Localisation Satellite (CLS), 8-10 Rue Hermes, 31520 Ramonville St-Agne, France
2
Jet Propulsion Laboratory (JPL), 4800 Oak Grove Dr, Pasadena, CA 91109, USA
*
Author to whom correspondence should be addressed.
Received: 21 March 2014 / Revised: 12 May 2014 / Accepted: 19 May 2014 / Published: 27 May 2014

Abstract

The proposed surface water and ocean topography (SWOT) mission aims at observing short scale ocean topography with an unprecedented resolution and accuracy. Its main proposed sensor is a radar interferometer, so a major source of topography error is the roll angle: the relative positions of SWOT’s antennas must be known within a few micrometers. Because reaching SWOT’s stringent requirements with onboard roll values is challenging, we carried out simulations as a contingency strategy (i.e., to be ready if roll is larger than anticipated) that could be used with ground-based data. We revisit the empirical calibration algorithms with additional solving methods (e.g., based on orbit sub-cycle) and more sophisticated performance assessments with spectral decompositions. We also explore the link between the performance of four calibration methods and the attributes of their respective calibration zones: size and geometry (e.g., crossover diamonds), temporal variability (e.g., how many days between overlapping SWOT images). In general, the so-called direct method (using a single SWOT image) yields better coverage and smaller calibrated roll residuals because the full extent of the swath can be used for calibration, but this method makes an extensive use of the external nadir constellation to separate roll from oceanic variability, and it is more prone to leakages from oceanic variability on roll (i.e., true topography signal is more likely to be corrupted if it is misinterpreted as roll) and inaccurate modeling of the true topography spectrum. For SWOT’s baseline orbit (21 days repeat and 10.9 days sub-cycle), three other methods are found to be complementary with the direct method: swath crossovers, external nadir crossovers, and sub-cycle overlaps are shown to provide an additional calibration capability, albeit with complex latitude-varying coverage and performance. The main asset of using three or four methods concurrently is to minimize systematic leakages from oceanic variability or measurement errors, by maximizing overlap zones and by minimizing the temporal variability with one-day to three-day image differences. To that extent, SWOT’s proposed “contingency orbit” is an attractive risk reduction asset: the one-day sub-cycle overlaps of adjoining swaths would provide a good, continuous, and self-sufficient (no need for external nadirs) calibration scheme. The benefit is however essentially located at mid to high-latitudes and it is substantial only for wavelengths longer than 100 km. View Full-Text
Keywords: SWOT; empirical calibration; roll; error budget; interferometry; topography SWOT; empirical calibration; roll; error budget; interferometry; topography
This is an open access article distributed under the Creative Commons Attribution License (CC BY 3.0).

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MDPI and ACS Style

Dibarboure, G.; Ubelmann, C. Investigating the Performance of Four Empirical Cross-Calibration Methods for the Proposed SWOT Mission. Remote Sens. 2014, 6, 4831-4869.

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