Theoretical evaluation of several possible along-track InSAR modes of TerraSAR-X for ocean current measurements

Roland Romeiser, Hartmut Runge

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

67 Scopus citations


The German satellite TerraSAR-X, scheduled for launch in late 2006, will permit high-resolution ocean current measurements by along-track interferometric SAR (along-track InSAR) in various experimental modes of operation, using different sections of its X-band SAR antenna array with a total length of 4.8 m as individual receive antennas. Depending on antenna and receive-chain settings, effective InSAR time lags of about 0.17 to 0.29 ms can be realized in combination with different noise levels, single-look resolutions, swath widths, and incidence angles. We give an overview of the characteristics of the possible InSAR modes and evaluate their suitability for current measurements on the basis of simulated data products. Our results indicate that the quality of interferometric stripmap data from TerraSAR-X will be clearly superior to the quality of the existing data acquired over the Dutch coast during the Shuttle Radar Topography Mission; accurate current retrievals can be expected at effective spatial resolutions on the order of 500 m. However, in modes using a multiplexed single receive chain, the effective swath width of stripmap data will be limited to only 15 km, while dual receive-chain operation offers a swath width of 30 km for stripmap data and promises a reasonable data quality even for ScanSAR data with a maximum swath width of 100 km. Finally, we consider fundamental relations between along-track baseline, instrument noise, and resulting InSAR phase noise to discuss the potential for current measuring performance improvements of TerraSAR-X follow-on satellites.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)21-35
Number of pages15
JournalIEEE Transactions on Geoscience and Remote Sensing
Issue number1
StatePublished - Jan 2007
Externally publishedYes


  • Along-track interferometry (ATI)
  • Current measurements
  • Interferometric synthetic aperture radar (InSAR)
  • TerraSAR-X

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Electrical and Electronic Engineering
  • Earth and Planetary Sciences(all)


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