A Next Generation Radar Altimeter: The Proposed SWOT Mission

Wednesday, 17 December 2014: 10:20 AM
Lee-Lueng Fu, Jet Propulsion Laboratory, Pasadena, CA, United States
Conventional nadir-looking radar altimeter is based on pulse-limited footprint approach. Near a coast the pulse limited footprint is contaminated by land within the much larger radar footprint, causing data quality to decay within 10 km from a coast. In the open ocean, the instrument noise limits the detection of dynamic ocean signals to wavelengths longer than 70 km. Using the technique of radar interferometry, the proposed Surface Water and Ocean Topography (SWOT) Mission would reduce instrument noise to resolve ocean signals to 15 km in wavelength over most of the open ocean without land contamination in the coastal zone. Sea surface height would be measured in two dimensions over a swath 120 km wide across the satellite’s flight path. SWOT is under development as a joint mission of NASA and the French Space Agency, CNES, with contributions from the Canadian Space Agency and the UK Space Agency. The launch is baselined for 2020. An overview of the projected mission performance for oceanographic applications will be presented. SWOT would also measure the elevation of land surface water with hydrological applications.