L-band one-dimensional (1-D) synthetic aperture radiometer is a passive microwave imager that aims to produce global sea surface salinity and soil moisture maps. Two instrument concepts for the L-band 1-D synthetic aperture radiometer have been proposed and selected as candidate payloads for future Chinese space missions, including MICAP (Microwave Imager Combined Active and Passive) for the Chinese Ocean Salinity Mission and IMI (Interferometric Microwave Imager) for the Water Cycle Observation Mission (WCOM). For a synthetic aperture radiometer, spatial imaging error is defined as the difference between the original brightness temperature (BT) and the retrieved BT images within the alias-free field of view (AF-FOV). The main causes of image spatial error in the L-band 1-D system are antenna elements spacing and antenna patterns error. Flat target transformation (FTT) algorithm is always useful for correcting radiometer imaging, but there is still a concave residual error in the retrieved image. An improved calibration algorithm is proposed, which replaces the cold sky view in the FTT with a stable reference scene BT image. A task simulator has been set up to evaluate the new method. The proposed calibration algorithm is shown to reduce the spatial bias and improve the quality of the retrieved BT image.
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