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AltiKa Altimeter: Instrument Description and In Flight Performance

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On 25 February 2013, the SARAL satellite was launched from the Indian Sriharikota launch site. The key feature of the altimetric payload has been the selection of Ka-band. Using Ka-band avoids the need for a second frequency to correct for the ionosphere delay and eases the sharing of the antenna by the altimeter and the radiometer. The use of the Ka-band also allows the improvement of the range measurement accuracy in a ratio close to 2 due to the use of a wider bandwidth and to a better pulse to pulse echo decorrelation. Eventually, Ka-band antenna aperture is reduced, which limits the pollution within useful ground footprint. A summary of the results obtained during the in-flight assessment phase is given. All the tracking modes have also been gone through. Eventually, a new high data rate mode, called “HD mode” is implemented on AltiKa and has been used. The performance assessment is excellent: the range measurement accuracy is close to 1 cm for 1s averaging and the Significant Wave Height (SWH) noise is less than 5 cm (for a 2m SWH at 1?). The tracking success is close to 100% over oceans and 96% over all surfaces.
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Keywords: Ka-band; Keywords Altimetry; retracking; tracking

Document Type: Research Article

Affiliations: 1: Centre National d'Etudes Spatiales (CNES), Toulouse, France 2: Collecte Localisation Satellites (CLS), Toulouse, France

Publication date: September 10, 2015

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