The main application of the SENTINEL-3 topography mission is the study of ocean topography including mean sea level, wave height, wind speed over the surface, sea-ice, ocean currents, Kelvin and Rossby waves, eddies and tides.
The geophysical parameters to be measured by the SENTINEL-3 topography mission are:
The goal of the Sentinel-3 mission is to provide operational measurements for 20 years using robust and stable altimetry technology already proven in previous ESA missions. The minimum baseline altimeter performance required shall be the same as Envisat and CRYOSAT altimeters.
The SENTINEL-3 orbit (altitude, inclination and coverage) is almost the same as Envisat, allowing continuation of the ERS/Envisat time series.
In the SENTINEL-3 SRAL mission, there are two main modes of operation:
The SRAL mission is always operated at High Resolution Mode. Low Resolution Mode is back-up mode only.
A Level-2 SRAL/MWR complete product contains three data files:
The SRAL/MWR Level-2 products are generated in Standard Archive Format for Europe (SAFE) format. All the information relevant to the product is gathered into a single package. Inside this package, the specific objects containing measurement data are encoded in netCDF format.
There are different levels of data latency related to the availability of the auxiliary or ancillary data:
There are different data products associated with the three levels of processing of altimeter data:
Level-1 and level-2 products are available to users. Level-0 products are not available to users and are considered only as inputs to Level-1 processing.
The SENTINEL-3 SRAL geophysical error estimates for the altimeter are shown in Table 1.
Table 1: Major error terms for altimeter height estimation. All data in this table are derived using a 1 Hz integration time and a 2 m Hs. Reference: ESA
The ESA S3 Altimetry toolbox is used to visualise and operate Level-1 and Level-2 products.