The SARAL/AltiKa mission: A step forward to the future of altimetry

Type Article
Date 2021-07
Language English
Author(s) Verron Jacques1, Bonnefond Pascal2, Andersen Ole3, Ardhuin FabriceORCID4, Bergé-Nguyen Muriel5, Bhowmick Suchandra6, Blumstein Denis5, 7, Boy François7, Brodeau Laurent8, Crétaux Jean-François5, 7, Dabat Mei Ling5, Dibarboure Gérald7, Fleury Sara5, Garnier Florent5, Gourdeau Lionel5, Marks Karen9, Queruel Nadège8, Sandwell David10, Smith Walter H.F.9, Zaron Ed11
Affiliation(s) 1 : Institut des Géosciences de l’Environnement, CNRS, CS 40700, 38 058 Grenoble Cedex 9, France
2 : Observatoire de Paris, SYRTE, 77 avenue Denfert Rochereau, 75014 Paris, France
3 : DTU SPACE, National Space Institute, Technical University of Denmark, Elektrovej, 2800 Kgs. Lyngby, Denmark
4 : LOPS, IFREMER, CS 10070, 29280 Plouzané, France
5 : LEGOS, 14 Avenue Edouard Belin, 31400 Toulouse, France
6 : ISRO, Oceanic Sciences Division, Space Applications Centre, Ambawadi Vistar P.O., Ahmedabad, 380015, India
7 : CNES, 18 Avenue Edouard Belin, 31400 Toulouse, France
8 : OCEAN NEXT, 90 chemin du Moulin, 38660 La Terrasse, France
9 : Laboratory for Satellite Altimetry, NOAA, 5830 University Research Court, College Park, MD 20740, Maryland, USA
10 : Scripps Inst. of Oceanography, 8622 Kennel Way, La Jolla, CA 92037, California, USA
11 : Department of Civil and Environmental Engineering, Portland State University, P.O. Box 751 Portland, OR 97207-0751, Oregon, USA
Source Advances In Space Research (0273-1177) (Elsevier BV), 2021-07 , Vol. 68 , N. 2 , P. 808-828
DOI 10.1016/j.asr.2020.01.030
WOS© Times Cited 21
Keyword(s) Satellite, Altimetry, Ka-band

The CNES/ISRO altimetric satellite SARAL/AltiKa was launched in February 2013 and since then has provided useful data for various scientific and operational applications in oceanography, hydrology, cryospheric sciences and geodesy. However, a Reaction Wheel problem forced relaxation of the repeatability constraint on the satellite’s orbit, which has been drifting slowly since July 2016. Beyond the expected contributions of this mission and its very good integration into the objectives of the constellation of altimetric satellites, it has become more and more apparent that specific contributions and innovations related to the main specification of SARAL/AltiKa, that is to say the use of the Ka-band, have clearly emerged. The advantages of the Ka-band are in short the reduction of ionosphere effects, the smaller footprint, the better horizontal resolution and the higher vertical resolution. A drawback of the Ka-band is the attenuation due to water/water vapor in case of rain and the resulting loss of data. The main objective of this paper is to highlight the specific advances of the Ka-band in different scientific and technical fields and to show why they are promising for the future and open the way to several missions or mission projects. Although unplanned initially, the fine coverage of the Drifting Phase brings some interesting openings especially for geodesy and hydrology applications.

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Verron Jacques, Bonnefond Pascal, Andersen Ole, Ardhuin Fabrice, Bergé-Nguyen Muriel, Bhowmick Suchandra, Blumstein Denis, Boy François, Brodeau Laurent, Crétaux Jean-François, Dabat Mei Ling, Dibarboure Gérald, Fleury Sara, Garnier Florent, Gourdeau Lionel, Marks Karen, Queruel Nadège, Sandwell David, Smith Walter H.F., Zaron Ed (2021). The SARAL/AltiKa mission: A step forward to the future of altimetry. Advances In Space Research, 68(2), 808-828. Publisher's official version : , Open Access version :