The German TerraSAR-X radar satellites TSX-1 and TDX-1 are well-regarded for their unprecedented geolocation accuracy. However, to access their full potential, Synthetic Aperture Radar (SAR)-based location measurements have to be carefully corrected for effects that are well-known in the area of geodesy but were previously often neglected in the area of SAR, such as wave propagation and Earth dynamics. Our measurements indicate that in this way, when SAR is handled as a geodetic measurement instrument, absolute localization accuracy at better than centimeter level with respect to a given geodetic reference frame is obtained in 2-D and, when using stereo SAR techniques, also in 3-D. The TerraSAR-X measurement results presented in this study are based on a network of three globally distributed geodetic observatories. Each is equipped with one or two trihedral corner reflectors with accurately (<5 mm) known reference coordinates, used as a reference for the verification of the SAR measured coordinates. Because these observatories are located in distant parts of the world, they give us evidence on the worldwide reproducibility of the obtained results. In this paper we report the achieved results of measurements performed over 6 1/2 years (from July 2011 to January 2018) and refer to some first new application areas for geodetic SAR.
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