With very high resolution satellite (VHRS) imagery of 0.5 m, WorldView-2 (WV02) satellite images have been widely used in the field of surveying and mapping. However, for the specific WV02 satellite image geometric orientation model, there is a lack of detailed research and explanation. This paper elaborates the construction process of the WV02 satellite rigorous sensor model (RSM), which considers the velocity aberration, the optical path delay and the atmospheric refraction. We create a new physical inverse model based on a double-iterative method. Through this inverse method, we establish the virtual control grid in the object space to calculate the rational function model (RFM) coefficients. In the RFM coefficient calculation process, we apply the correcting characteristic value method (CCVM) and least squares (LS) method to compare the two experiments’ accuracies. We apply two stereo pairs of WV02 Level 1B products in Qinghai, China to verify the algorithm and test image positioning accuracy. Under the no-control conditions, the monolithic horizontal mean square error (RMSE) of the rational polynomial coefficient (RPC) is 3.8 m. This result is 13.7% higher than the original RPC positioning accuracy provided by commercial vendors. The stereo pair horizontal positioning accuracy of both the physical and RPC models is 5.0 m circular error 90% (CE90). This result is in accordance with the WV02 satellite images nominal positioning accuracy. This paper provides a new method to improve the positioning accuracy of the WV02 satellite image RPC model without GCPs.
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