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A distributed temperature sensor based on Rayleigh scattering Brillouin optical time domain analysis (Rayleigh-BOTDA) is proposed in this paper. The sensor uses Rayleigh backscattering effect of microwave modulated pulse base sidebands as probe wave and a high sensitive photon counting detector for Brillouin signal intensity detection. Compared with a conventional BOTDA system, the Rayleigh-BOTDA effectively suppresses polarization-induced signal fluctuation resulting in improved signal intensity. The experimental scheme presented is simplified by using a single laser with one-end access. The temperature accuracy of the new sensing system was demonstrated as 1°C on spatial resolution of 3 m.