This paper investigates a potential application of GPSsignals for ocean altimetry. The altimetry information isderived from dual-frequency GPS signals reflected fromthe ocean surface and received at a low-altitude satellite.Such altimetry would be superior to conventional radar
altimetry in three respects: ( 1 ) Thanks to the global GPSconstellation, sea surface heights at up to 12 points can bedetermined instead of a single nadir point at any one time;
(2) The user satellite only need be equipped with a GPSreceiver which also serves as the receiver acquiring directGPS signals for orbit determination; and (3) The delayspread of the reflected signal is a function of the
surface roughness, so that this technique may allow
measurements of surface weather
The paper addresses several criteria for the GPS altimetryto
viable. These include the signal strength, delaycharacteristics and polarization of the reflected GPSsignals, the receiver capability of discriminating andtracking these signals from the direct signats, thedetermination of the reflection points on the sea surface,
and the information content of these signals.
Satellite onboard radar altimeter has been used exclusively
for precise measurement of ocean surface height inmodem years [ 1–3].
radar signal is transmittedvertically downward by the satellite, usually at lowaltitudes. The signal, upon reflection back from the oceansurface, is received by the same satellite. The oceansurface height can then be derived from the radar signaldelay and the precise height of the independentlydetermined satellite orbit. Since only a single shot of measurement directly below the satellite is made at anyone time, the satellite orbit has to be properly designedand measurements over a prolonged period of time are
required for a global coverage of the ocean.
GPS measurements have demonstrated to be capable of precise positioning of users on earth as well as on lowaltitude satellites. Positioning to cm-level accuracy hasbeen reported [4-6]. Can a highly-modified GPS receiverbe used to derive ocean topography by tracking the GPSsignals as they
from the ocean surface, leading to
low-cost altimetry missions?