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The TERRASAR-L Interferometric Mission Objectives

Manfred Zink(1)

(1) ESA ESTEC, Keplerlaan 1, P.O. Box 299, 2200 AG Noordwijk, Netherlands


TerraSAR-L is the new imaging radar mission of the European Space Agency. The platform, based on the novel Snapdragon concept, is built around the active phase array antenna of the L-band SAR. First mission priority is to serve commercial applications. 25 products/services have been identified with a focus on agriculture, forestry and marine applications. For these services joint products from TerraSAR-L and TerraSAR-X, the latter being concurrently developed as a German national programme, are crucial.

A suite of scientific and institutional applications, widely employing INSAR techniques, complements the commercial objectives. A L-band SAR in a 16-day repeat orbit is an ideal sensor for solid earth applications (earth quake and volcano monitoring, landslides and urban subsidence) relying on differential interferometry. The L-band SAR penetration of vegetation cover facilitates these applications also over vegetated surfaces. Because of the high coherence, L-band is also the preferred frequency for monitoring ice sheet and glacier dynamics. Highly accurate orbit control (orbital tube <100m) and special wideband INSAR modes are required to support these applications globally and systematically. Precise burst synchronisation (<5ms) enables repeat- pass ScanSAR interferometry and global coverage within the short repeat cycle.

In addition to the above DINSAR applications the potentials of a cartwheel for single-pass interferometry are being investigated. Different micro satellite constellations flying in close formation with TerraSAR-L are under consideration. Primary objective is the generation of a global DEM of HRTI level-3 quality. Ocean current monitoring is another important application facilitated by such a single-pass INSAR configuration.


Full paper

Keywords: ESA European Space Agency - Agence spatiale europeenne, observation de la terre, earth observation, satellite remote sensing, teledetection, geophysique, altimetrie, radar, chimique atmospherique, geophysics, altimetry, radar, atmospheric chemistry