Pencil-beam Doppler scatterometers are a promising remote sensing tool for measuring ocean vector winds and currents from space. While several point designs exist in the literature, these designs have been constrained by the hardware they inherited, and the design is sub-optimal. Here, guidelines to optimize the design of these instruments starting from the basic sensitivity equations are presented. Unlike conventional scatterometers or pencil-beam imagers, appropriate sampling of the Doppler spectrum and optimizing the radial velocity error lead naturally to a design that incorporates a pulse-to-pulse separation and pulse length that vary with scan angle. Including this variation can improve radial velocity performance significantly and the optimal selection of system timing and bandwidth is derived. Following this, optimization of the performance based on frequency, incidence angle, antenna length, and spatial sampling strategy are considered. It is shown that antenna length influences the performance most strongly, while the errors depend only on the square root of the transmit power. Finally, a set of example designs and associated performance are presented.
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