The geometric accuracy of synthetic aperture radar (SAR) data is usually derived from level-1 products using accurately surveyed corner reflector positions. This paper introduces a novel approach that derives the range delay and azimuth shift from acquired SAR raw data (level-0 products). Therefore, the propagation path is completely retrieved from SAR pulse transmission up to the reception of the point target’s backscatter. The procedure includes simple pulse compression in range and azimuth instead of full SAR data processing. By applying this method, the geometric accuracy of ESA’s Sentinel-1 SAR satellites (Sentinel-1A and Sentinel-1B) is derived for each satellite overpass by using corner reflectors with precisely surveyed GPS positions. The results show that the azimuth bias of about 2 m found in level-1 products for Stripmap acquisitions is reduced to about 15 cm. This indicates an artificial bias arising from operational Sentinel-1 SAR data processing. The remaining range bias of about 1.0 m, observed in L0-products, is interpreted as the offset between the SAR antenna phase center and the spacecraft’s center of gravity. The relative pixel localization accuracy derived with the proposed method is about 12 cm for the evaluated acquisitions. Compared to the full processed level-1 SAR data products, this accuracy is similar in the range direction, but, for the azimuth direction, it is improved by about 50% with the proposed method.
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