Polarimetric Calibration and Quality Assessment of the GF-3 Satellite Images

Sensors (Basel). 2018 Jan 30;18(2):403. doi: 10.3390/s18020403.


The GaoFen-3 (GF-3) satellite is the first fully polarimetric synthetic aperture radar (SAR) satellite designed for civil use in China. The satellite operates in the C-band and has 12 imaging modes for various applications. Three fully polarimetric SAR (PolSAR) imaging modes are provided with a resolution of up to 8 m. Although polarimetric calibration (PolCAL) of the SAR system is periodically undertaken, there is still some residual distortion in the images. In order to assess the polarimetric accuracy of this satellite and improve the image quality, we analyzed the polarimetric distortion errors and performed a PolCAL experiment based on scattering properties and corner reflectors. The experiment indicates that the GF-3 images can meet the satellite's polarimetric accuracy requirements, i.e., a channel imbalance of 0.5 dB in amplitude and ±10 degrees in phase and a crosstalk accuracy of -35 dB. However, some images still contain residual polarimetric distortion. The experiment also shows that the residual errors of the GF-3 standard images can be diminished after further PolCAL, with a channel imbalance of 0.26 dB in amplitude and ±0.2 degrees in phase and a crosstalk accuracy of -42 dB.

Keywords: GaoFen-3; PolSAR; image quality; polarimetric calibration; reflection symmetry.