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Radar Altimetry: Past, Present and Future

  • J. Benveniste
Chapter

Abstract

This chapter describes the radar altimetry principle and relates the radar altimetry missions since the first demonstration mission, Skylab in 1975, to the most recently planned mission, Sentinel-3, extending to a proposed revolutionary two-dimensional topography mission, SWOT. A historical recall and a description of each mission are provided, recalling their achievements with a focus on precursor applications of radar altimetry to coastal zones.

Keywords

Coastal Zone Altimetry CryoSat-2 Envisat ERS-1 ERS-2 GEOS-3 Geosat GFO GFO-2 HY-2 Jason-1 Jason-2 Jason-3 Radar Altimetry missions Radar Altimetry principle SARAL Seasat Sentinel-3 Skylab SWOT TOPEX/Poseidon 

Abbreviations

AATSR

Advanced Along-Track Scanning Radiometer

ALBICOCCA

ALtimeter-Based Investigations in COrsica, Capraia and Contiguous Areas

ALTICORE

Value added satellite ALTImetry for COastal REgions

ARGOS

or “A-DCS” Advanced data collection system - data collection and location system (France) on NOAA operational satellites

Ceos

Committee for Earth Observation Satellites

CFRP

Carbon Fibre Reinforced Plastic

CNES

Centre National d’Études Spatiales (National Centre of Space Studies)

CNSA

China National Space Administration

COASTALT

ESA development of COASTal ALTimetry

DORIS

Détermination d’Orbite et Radiopositionement Integré par Satellite

DUACS

Data Unification and Altimeter Combination System

EC

European Commission

EP-90

Russian earth reference frame

ERS-1/2

European Remote Sensing Satellite

ESA

European Space Agency

ESOC

European Space Operation Centre, Darmstadt

ESRIN

European Space Research INstitute, Rome

EUMETSAT

European Meteorological Satellite Agency

GFO

Geosat Follow-On – geodesy satellite (US Navy)

GMES

European initiative on Global Monitoring for Environment and Security

GNSS

Global Navigation Satellite Systems

GOCE

Gravity and Ocean Circulation Explorer (ESA)

GPS

Global Positioning System

GRACE

Gravity Recovery and Climate Experiment

GSE

ESA GMES service element

HY-2

HaiYang (for Ocean in Chinese) satellite mission

INTAS

International Association for the promotion of co-operation with scientists from the New Independent States of the former Soviet Union

ISRO

Indian Space Research Organization

JGR

Journal of Geophysical Research

KaRIN

Ka-band Radar INterferometer (on SWOT)

LEO

Low Earth Orbit

LMCS

Land Monitoring Core Service LEO

LTDN

Local Time on Descending Node

MCS

EU Marine Core Service

MERIS

MEdium Resolution Imaging Spectrometer

MWR

MicroWave Radiometer

NASA

National Aeronautics and Space Administration

NOAA

National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration

NSOAS

National Satellite Ocean Application Service

PISTACH

CNES Development of “Prototype Innovant de Système de Traitement pour les Applications Côtières et l’Hydrologie”

PSLV

Indian Polar Satellite Launch Vehicle

RA-2

Radar Altimeter 2nd generation on Envisat

SAMOSA

ESA development of SAR altimetry mode studies and applications over ocean, coastal zones and inland water

SAR

Synthetic Aperture Radar

SARAL

Satellite with ARgos and ALtika

SIRAL

SAR/Interferometric Radar ALtimeter

SPOT

Satellite Pour l’Observation de la Terre (optical imaging)

SRAL

SAR Radar ALtimeter

SRTM

Shuttle Radar Topography Mission

SSH

Sea Surface Height

SWH

Significant Wave Height

SWOT

Surface Water Ocean Topography mission

WGS84

World Geodetic System 1984

Notes

Acknowledgments

This chapter holds information communicated to me by a number of colleagues, over the years, in particular of the older generation, who were in fact the pioneers of the radar altimetry adventure, for whom I have a great admiration. They are too numerous to be all cited here, but they will recognize themselves and receive all my gratitude. In particular I thank and dedicate this chapter to my long time colleague and friend, Yves Ménard, who passed away in 2008, with whom I had so much pleasure and satisfaction to organize the “15 Years of Progress in Radar Altimetry” Symposium in Venice in 2006. I recall our precursor conversations about how to tackle the coastal zone with altimetry. Discussions with Yves were always a great inspiration. Yves would be proud of the results achieved in the past 2 years. Yves remains always present in my memory.

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Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag Berlin Heidelberg 2011

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Directorate of Earth Observation Programmes, Earth Observation Science, Applications and Future Technologies DepartmentEuropean Space Agency – ESRINFrascati (Rome)Italy

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