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The use of a radar altimeter is to measure the height of the reflecting surface when the instrument passes overhead. A delay/Doppler altimeter (DDA) reduces the along-track resolution cell using correlation of pulses within burst, as in a synthetic aperture radar, with the net effect of synthesizing an array with a narrower lobe. The processing of DDA data therefore implies the correction of the phase delay of pulses, which is said to be Doppler beam sharpening since it can be reduced to a DFT in the along-track direction. The noise term on Doppler echoes is decreased by incoherent summing of contributions of different bursts. Summation of these contributions requires that pointing of each beam is directed toward a given output grid of samples on ground, and this can be a nontrivial task, depending on the topography profile. In this letter, a comparison between different beam sharpening algorithms is presented: Two of them are similar in their basic idea even if with different implementations; the third one can be considered as reference since no approximations are needed in principle, but is computationally inefficient. What results is that the first couple can be considered basically equivalent in terms of precision and computational efficiency, with little differences at the change of the environmental conditions. Results based on simulated data of simple and complex scenarios are presented as support of the reasoning.
Date of Publication: Oct. 2008