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  • A study of satellite altimetry for geophysical and oceanographic measurement

    Paper ID



    • E.J. Frey
    • J.V. Harrington
    • W.S. von Arx


    Massachusetts Institute of Technology, department of Aeronautics and Astronautics






    The question of whether useful geophysical measurements of the surface of the solid Earth and oceans can be made by altimetry from orbiting vehicles is examined. If the path'of a satellite can be determined with sufficient precision, it can provide a reference line for a measurement of the distance to the terrestrial surface byl a radar altimeter. This would thus furnish a measure of the geometric and/or geopotential height of the ocean surface. The paper first considers the results which could be deduced from certain levels of resolution of the height. It then examines the accuracy with which the position and attitude of a satellite must be known to achieve this resolution, and finally considers the characteristics of a radar altimeter which could provide such measurements.