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Imaging Geodesy—Toward Centimeter-Level Ranging Accuracy With TerraSAR-X

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5 Author(s)
Michael Eineder ; Remote Sensing Technology Institute, German Aerospace Center (DLR), Wessling, Germany ; Christian Minet ; Peter Steigenberger ; Xiaoying Cong
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In this paper, we report on experiments to measure large-scale Earth surface displacements, such as those caused by solid Earth tides, with centimeter-level accuracy using TerraSAR-X radar images. With two totally different approaches, corner reflectors and image correlation techniques, we show the clear interrelation between the radar range measurements and the projection of the solid Earth tide motion vector onto the radar line of sight. Pixel location accuracies of up to 2.6-cm standard deviation can be achieved after a single calibration. We further demonstrate that solid Earth tides and tropospheric water vapor variations are the largest sources of ranging error if not compensated for. Alternatively, tropospheric water vapor can be estimated with centimeter accuracy using our proposed technique of synthetic aperture radar (SAR) image correlation and solid Earth motion compensation by the existing models. We also consider ionospheric delays which improve the results marginally in the X-band. Our results show the best ranging accuracies so far reported for spaceborne radar amplitude images and make TerraSAR-X-together with our simple compensation methodology-suitable for the imaging of centimeter-level Earth displacements. Absolute measurements of volcanoes or glaciers are possible without the use of ground equipment and without the use of SAR interferometry, thus avoiding the associated problems of phase ambiguity, phase unwrapping, and reference points.

Published in:

IEEE Transactions on Geoscience and Remote Sensing  (Volume:49 ,  Issue: 2 )