Open Access

Spaceborne Polarimetric SAR Interferometry: Performance Analysis and Mission Concepts

  • Gerhard Krieger1Email author,
  • Konstantinos Panagiotis Papathanassiou1 and
  • Shane R. Cloude2
EURASIP Journal on Advances in Signal Processing20052005:354018

Received: 30 July 2004

Published: 14 December 2005


We investigate multichannel imaging radar systems employing coherent combinations of polarimetry and interferometry (Pol-InSAR). Such systems are well suited for the extraction of bio- and geophysical parameters by evaluating the combined scattering from surfaces and volumes. This combination leads to several important differences between the design of Pol-InSAR sensors and conventional single polarisation SAR interferometers. We first highlight these differences and then investigate the Pol-InSAR performance of two proposed spaceborne SAR systems (ALOS/PalSAR and TerraSAR-L) operating in repeat-pass mode. For this, we introduce the novel concept of a phase tube which enables (1) a quantitative assessment of the Pol-InSAR performance, (2) a comparison between different sensor configurations, and (3) an optimization of the instrument settings for different Pol-InSAR applications. The phase tube may hence serve as an interface between system engineers and application-oriented scientists. The performance analysis reveals major limitations for even moderate levels of temporal decorrelation. Such deteriorations may be avoided in single-pass sensor configurations and we demonstrate the potential benefits from the use of future bi- and multistatic SAR interferometers.

Keywords and phrases

synthetic aperture radar polarimetric SAR interferometry bistatic radar remote sensing temporal decorrelation forest parameter inversion

Authors’ Affiliations

Microwaves and Radar Institute, German Aerospace Centre (DLR) e.V.
School of Electrical and Electronic Engineering, The University of Adelaide


© Gerhard Krieger et al. 2005

This article is published under license to BioMed Central Ltd. This is an open access article distributed under the Creative Commons Attribution License, which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited.