Orbit accuracy requirement for ABYSS: The space station radar altimeter to map global bathymetry

C. K. Shum, P. A.M. Abusali, Chung Yen Kuo, Hyongki Lee, James Ogle, R. Keith Raney, John C. Ries, Walter H.F. Smith, Drazen Svehla, Changyin Zhao

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

1 Citation (Scopus)


The Altimetric Bathymetry from Surface Slopes (ABYSS), which is the proposed science payload on the International Space Station (ISS), is a Johns Hopkins University Applied Physics Laboratory-developed flight-proved delay-Doppler phase-monopulse radar altimeter capable of measuring ocean surface slope in the 6200-km half-wavelength frequency band range with an accuracy of 0.5 μrad, with autonomous gimbal control to compensate for the ISS structural motions. This measurement allows an improved mapping of the global bathymetry, enabling a wide range of scientific research works and applications. The nonrepeat ISS orbital ground track is ideal for ABYSS. This letter describes a simulation study on the effects of the Earth's gravity field and other errors, including thermal bending of the ISS, on the orbit determination of the altimeter instrument antenna phase center location, fulfilling the science objectives of ABYSS. Our study concluded that the error due to mean gravity field is no longer limiting due primarily to the recent Gravity Recovery and Climate Experiment gravity modeling and that the ABYSS/ISS radial orbit slope error budget in the presence of various force and measurement model errors is estimated at the 0.2-μrad root-sum-squared (RSS) level, which satisfies the ABYSS orbit accuracy science requirement to provide an improved mapping of global bathymetry.

Original languageEnglish
Article number5184937
Pages (from-to)653-657
Number of pages5
JournalIEEE Geoscience and Remote Sensing Letters
Issue number4
Publication statusPublished - 2009 Oct 1

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Geotechnical Engineering and Engineering Geology
  • Electrical and Electronic Engineering


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