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The roles of the S3MPC: Monitoring, validation and evolution of sentinel-3 altimetry observations

Research output: Contribution to journalJournal articlepeer-review

  • Graham D. Quartly
  • Francesco Nencioli
  • Matthias Raynal
  • Pascal Bonnefond
  • Pablo Nilo Garcia
  • Albert Garcia-Mondéjar
  • Adrian Flores de la Cruz
  • Jean Francois Cretaux
  • Nicolas Taburet
  • Marie Laure Frery
  • Mathilde Cancet
  • Alan Muir
  • David Brockley
  • Saleh Abdalla
  • Sara Fleury
  • Emeline Cadier
  • Qi Gao
  • Maria Jose Escorihuela
  • Mònica Roca
  • Muriel Bergé-Nguyen
  • Olivier Laurain
  • Jerome Bruniquel
  • Pierre Femenias
  • Bruno Lucas
Article number1763
<mark>Journal publication date</mark>29/05/2020
<mark>Journal</mark>Remote Sensing
Issue number11
Number of pages57
Publication StatusPublished
<mark>Original language</mark>English


The Sentinel-3 Mission Performance Centre (S3MPC) is tasked by the European Space Agency (ESA) to monitor the health of the Copernicus Sentinel-3 satellites and ensure a high data quality to the users. This paper deals exclusively with the effort devoted to the altimeter and microwave radiometer, both components of the Surface Topography Mission (STM). The altimeters on Sentinel-3A and-3B are the first to operate in delay-Doppler or SAR mode over all Earth surfaces, which enables better spatial resolution of the signal in the along-track direction and improved noise reduction through multi-looking, whilst the radiometer is a two-channel nadir-viewing system. There are regular routine assessments of the instruments through investigation of telemetered housekeeping data, calibrations over selected sites and comparisons of geophysical retrievals with models, in situ data and other satellite systems. These are performed both to monitor the daily production, assessing the uncertainties and errors on the estimates, and also to characterize the long-term performance for climate science applications. This is critical because an undetected drift in performance could be misconstrued as a climate variation. As the data are used by the Copernicus Services (e.g., CMEMS, Global Land Monitoring Services) and by the research community over open ocean, coastal waters, sea ice, land ice, rivers and lakes, the validation activities encompass all these domains, with regular reports openly available. The S3MPC is also in charge of preparing improvements to the processing, and of the development and tuning of algorithms to improve their accuracy. This paper is thus the first refereed publication to bring together the analysis of SAR altimetry across all these different domains to highlight the benefits and existing challenges.