Skip to Main Content
The radar altimeter of the Cassini mission to Titan operates in a transition region between pulse- and beam-limited conditions. Due to the specific observation geometry, low values of mispointing angle have been found to significantly affect altimeter impulse response (IR). This involves a nonconventional formulation of the system response which is the main goal of this paper. An analytical model of the average return power waveform, valid for near-nadir altimetry measurements, has been developed in order to cope with the particular operating conditions of Cassini mission. The model used to approximate the altimeter waveform is based on the same general assumptions of the classical Brown's model (1977) but exploits a flat surface response approximation by Prony's methods. Both theoretical considerations and simulated data have been taken into account to support the accuracy of the proposed model. To infer the main geophysical parameters describing surface topography from altimetry data, a parametric estimation procedure has been used. The maximum likelihood estimator procedure has been chosen since, in principle, it can assure optimal performance as a consequence of the analytical model we used to describe the system IR. Performances of the implemented method have been numerically evaluated through simulation of data received by CASSINI in high-resolution altimeter mode.