The second-order effect of Earth’s rotation on Cryosat-2 fully focused SAR processing

Marcel Kleinherenbrink*, Walter H.F. Smith, Marc C. Naeije, D. Cornelis Slobbe, Peter Hoogeboom

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleScientificpeer-review

1 Citation (Scopus)
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We investigated the sensitivity of fully focused SAR (FF-SAR) processing of Cryosat-2 altimeter data to Earth rotation. Earth’s rotation causes scatterers at varying cross-track locations to have a different relative velocity with respect to the satellite. This second-order effect of Earth rotation on the phase is currently not corrected for in FF-SAR processing of altimetry data. The difference is largest near the poles, where the satellite flies parallel to the equator. Not correcting for the second-order effect yields a parabolic shape in the counter-rotated phase, which increases with the cross-track distance. Its effect is, however, limited by the time-in-view of the scatterer, which is shorter at the edge of the altimeter footprint, and therefore destructive interference will not occur when using Cryosat-2 data. For Cryosat-2, the only expected effect is a reduction in power and along-track resolution in the waveform tail and in the grating lobes. If the FF-SAR processor focuses on one point, and there is a bright scatterer at another, then there is a residual parabolic phase, whose sign and shape depend on the cross-track distance and whether the signal is left or right of the chosen focal point. In theory, if the viewed scene only has few bright coherent scatterers, then it might be possible to determine the cross-track position of each. In practice, however, natural targets are rarely coherent over the integration time.

Original languageEnglish
Article number7
Number of pages10
JournalJournal of Geodesy
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - 2020


  • Altimetry
  • Cryosat-2
  • Earth rotation
  • Focusing
  • Land contamination
  • SAR


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