The altimeter on-board EnviSat, RA-2, incorporates many new features, in particular a new ‘model ’ free tracker (MFT) and automatic resolution selection logic (RSL) to switch between three bandwidths (320MHz, 80MHz, 20MHz). Autonomous switching between different bandwidths is achieved by an on-board algorithm (RSL), using information from the return echoes. The operation of the algorithm is further controlled by a set of on-board parameters which may be ‘tuned ’ in flight to optimise the tracking characteristics. The primary objective of the RA-2 optimisation is to maximise the eventual science return during the mission. Essentially this should provide the highest resolution tracking over a given surface whilst minimising data loss through the instrument, losing track of the surface. The optimisation of these on-board parameters and software required to fulfil the requirements was performed during the EnviSat calibration phase. This paper describes the process of this optimisation, a comparison of the results against specifications, and initial comparison of the RA-2 performance against the ERS altimeters. 1
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