The Eddy Experiment: Accurate GNSS-R ocean altimetry from low altitude aircraft



[1] During the Eddy Experiment, two synchronous GPS receivers were flown at 1 km altitude to collect L1 signals and their reflections from the sea surface for assessment of altimetric precision and accuracy. Wind speed (U10) was around 10 m/s, and SWH up to 2 m. A geophysical parametric waveform model was used for retracking and estimation of the lapse between the direct and reflected signals with a 1-second precision of 3 m. The lapse was used to estimate the SSH along the track using a differential model. The RMS error of the 20 km averaged GNSS-R absolute altimetric solution with respect to Jason-1 SSH and a GPS buoy measurement was of 10 cm, with a 2 cm mean difference. Multipath and retracking parameter sensitivity due to the low altitude are suspected to have degraded accuracy. This result provides an important milestone on the road to a GNSS-R mesoscale altimetry space mission.