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Image alignment is a crucial step in synthetic aperture radar (SAR) interferometry. Interferogram formation requires images to be coregistered with an accuracy of better than a few tenths of a resolution cell to avoid significant loss of phase coherence. In conventional interferometric precise coregistration methods for full-resolution SAR data, a 2-D polynomial of low degree is usually chosen as warp function, and the polynomial parameters are estimated through least squares fit from the shifts measured on image windows. In case of rough topography or long baselines, the polynomial approximation may become inaccurate, leading to local misregistrations. These effects increase with spatial resolution of the sensor. An improved elevation-assisted image-coregistration procedure can be adopted to provide better prediction of the offset vectors. This approach computes pixel by pixel the correspondence between master and slave acquisitions by using the orbital data and a reference digital elevation model (DEM). This paper aims to assess the performance of this procedure w.r.t. the “standard” one based on polynomial approximation. Analytical relationships and simulations are used to evaluate the improvement of the DEM-assisted procedure w.r.t. the polynomial approximation as well as the impact of the finite vertical accuracy of the DEM on the final coregistration precision for different resolutions and baselines. The two approaches are then evaluated experimentally by processing high-resolution SAR data provided by the COnstellation of small Satellites for the Mediterranean basin Observation (COSMO/SkyMed) and TerraSAR-X missions, acquired over mountainous areas in Italy and Tanzania, respectively. Residual-range pixel offsets and interferometric coherence are used as quality figure.
Geoscience and Remote Sensing, IEEE Transactions on (Volume:49 , Issue: 3 )
Date of Publication: March 2011