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Spaceborne Polarimetric SAR Interferometry: Performance Analysis and Mission Concepts

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Abstract

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.

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Correspondence to Gerhard Krieger.

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Keywords and phrases

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