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Very High Resolution Spaceborne SAR Tomography in Urban Environment

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2 Author(s)
Xiao Xiang Zhu ; Lehrstuhl für Methodik der Fernerkundung, Technische Universität München, Munich, Germany ; Richard Bamler

Synthetic aperture radar tomography (TomoSAR) extends the synthetic aperture principle into the elevation direction for 3-D imaging. It uses stacks of several acquisitions from slightly different viewing angles (the elevation aperture) to reconstruct the reflectivity function along the elevation direction by means of spectral analysis for every azimuth-range pixel. The new class of meter-resolution spaceborne SAR systems (TerraSAR-X and COSMO-Skymed) offers a tremendous improvement in tomographic reconstruction of urban areas and man-made infrastructure. The high resolution fits well to the inherent scale of buildings (floor height, distance of windows, etc.). This paper demonstrates the tomographic potential of these SARs and the achievable quality on the basis of TerraSAR-X spotlight data of urban environment. A new Wiener-type regularization to the singular-value decomposition method-equivalent to a maximum a posteriori estimator-for TomoSAR is introduced and is extended to the differential case (4-D, i.e., space-time). Different model selection schemes for the estimation of the number of scatterers in a resolution cell are compared and proven to be applicable in practice. Two parametric estimation algorithms of the scatterers' elevation and their velocities are evaluated. First 3-D and 4-D reconstructions of an entire building complex (including its radar reflectivity) with very high level of detail from spaceborne SAR data by pixelwise TomoSAR are presented.

Published in:

IEEE Transactions on Geoscience and Remote Sensing  (Volume:48 ,  Issue: 12 )