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The Calibration of the Envisat Radar Altimeter Receiver by a Passive Technique

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6 Author(s)
Pierdicca, N. ; Dept. of Electron. Eng., La Sapienza Univ., Rome ; Greco, B. ; Bignami, C. ; Ferrazzoli, P.
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The passive calibration of the Radar Altimeter (RA) consists of characterizing the receiver gain by observing natural surfaces with known emission in the so-called noise-listen mode. It is based on the comparison between the simulated values of the brightness temperature impinging on the altimeter antenna, and the digital counts at the output of the altimeter receiver in the absence of echo. The proposed method aims to calibrate measurements of the backscattering coefficient performed by a spaceborne altimeter based on the assumption that the receiver gain is the main source of uncertainty. This paper focuses on the general approach undertaken to characterize the receiver and to simulate the brightness temperature at the top of the atmosphere observed by the Envisat RA-2. The simulations rely on emissivity models for land and sea, as well as on atmospheric radiation models supported by a continuous flow of online data used as model inputs. To assess the accuracy, the model outputs are compared with observations from calibrated radiometers, namely the Special Sensor Microwave/Imager and Tropical Rainfall Measuring Mission Microwave Imager, with particular attention to the low-frequency channels (10 and 19 GHz). The new method has been first tested on European Remote Sensing satellite data and has been subsequently adopted for Envisat RA-2 in the framework of the Envisat Calibration and Validation activities managed by European Space Agency. The evaluation of the receiver gain at both Ku-band and S-band is presented and compared to the preflight values, as well as to transponder calibration done for Ku-band. An error budget for the final estimates is also presented and discussed

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Geoscience and Remote Sensing, IEEE Transactions on  (Volume:44 ,  Issue: 11 )