SAR Polarimetry Tutorial (Beta version 0.1a)
by Martin 'Paddy' Hellmann
Warning: This file contains explicit polarimetric theory, expressions and images,
everyone who finds frontal open polarimetry to be offensive or objectionable, or
is not old enough or otherwise legally not entitled to view such stuff should burn this document
This document a beta version and is provided "as-is", without any express or
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The analysis and classification of polarimetric SAR data has
been a promising area of research for many years and gained a lot of importance in the recent years. During my PhD, at the Institute of High Frequency Technology at the German Aerospace Center (DLR), Oberpfaffenhofen, Germany, I was confronted for the first time with the topic of SAR polarimetry. This contact changed the alignment of my thesis quite significantly. I was quite lucky, that at this time Shane Cloude and Konstantinos Panagiotis Papathanassiou (better known as Kostas the mad Greek), were working at DLR and had the patience to give me an introduction into the rather complex field of polarimetry and answer all my stupid questions. In this way I got in contact with a lot of experts in this field, who I could bother with even more questions. During my studies I searched for some basic literature as an introduction into the field of polarimetry, but I couldn't find something that suited me. I wondered why nobody wrote a tutorial about polarimetry. Since this time I was playing with the idea to write my own tutorial or something similar. But as usual, the way to hell is plastered with good intentions, and I never found the time to write the stuff together. Only during my stay at the University of Rennes I found the time, and with Andreas 'Abdullah' Reigbers web-site, the medium. And since Eric Pottier gave me the freedom and encouraged me to write the stuff together. Well, now I know why nobody did that before. It's a hell of a job. Anyway, I clubbed something together and hopes that it will be helpful for somebody. This treatment is far away from being complete or exhaustive it's merely a try to write down what I think I know about polarimetry. Therefore, this treatment is rather a building site than a complete tutorial and everybody who wants to contribute is more than welcome to add something. Likewise, comments critics suggestions and beer donations are welcome. Actually some people did already, Laura Carrea was friendly enough to send me some material about her polar decomposition, Eric Pottier and Laurent Ferro-Famil helped me with some material and many (late night) discussions. Sophie Allain will contribute something about the soil moisture and surface roughness measurements with polarimetric SAR. Therfore, the present treatment is a product of the good atmosphere at the Equipe ART, University of Rennes, France. Thanks to all of you for the good time, the fun and especially for the patience with my French
Rennes, October 2001
Martin 'Paddy' Hellmann