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Improving the Jason-1 Ground Retracking to Better Account for Attitude Effects

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After two years of verification and validation activities of the Jason-1 altimeter data, it appears that all the mission specifications are completely fulfilled. Performances of all instruments embarked onboard the platform meet all the requirements of the mission. However, the star tracker system has shown some occasional abnormal behavior leading to mispointing angles out of the range of Jason-1 system specification which states that the altimeter antenna shall be pointed to the nadir direction with an accuracy below 0.2 degree (3 sigma). This article discusses the platform attitude angle and its consequences on the altimetric estimates. We propose improvements of the Jason-1 retracking process to better account for attitude effects. The first star tracker anomalies for the Jason-1 mission were detected in April 2002. The Poseidon-2 algorithms were specified assuming an antenna off-nadir angle smaller than 0.3 degree. For higher values, the current method to estimate the ocean parameters is known to be inaccurate. Thus, the algorithm has to be reviewed, and more specifically, the present altimeter echo model has to be modified to meet the desired instrument performance. Therefore, we derive a second order analytical model of the altimeter echo to take into account attitude angles up to 0.8 degree, and consequently, we adapt the retracking algorithm. This new model is tested on theoretical simulated data using a maximum likelihood estimation. Biases and noise performance characteristics are computed for the different estimated parameters. They are compared to the ones obtained with the current algorithm. This new method provides highly improved estimations for high attitude angles. It is statistically validated on real data by applying it on several cycles of Poseidon-2 raw measurements. The results are found to be consistent with those obtained from simulations. They also fully agree with the TOPEX estimates when flying along the same ground track. Finally, the estimates are also in agreement with the ones available in the current I/GDR (Intermediate Geophysical Data Record) products when mispointing lies in the mission specifications.
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Keywords: Jason-1; Poseidon-2; echo model; mispointing; retracking

Document Type: Research Article

Affiliations: 1: Collecte Localisation Satellite (CLS) Ramonville Saint-Agne France 2: Centre National d'Etudes Spatiales (CNES) Toulouse France

Publication date: 01 January 2004

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