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GOCE GPS data processing at ESOC

Henno Boomkamp(1) and John Dow(1)

(1) ESA, Robert-Bosch-Strasse 5, D64293 Darmstadt, Germany


The majority of GOCE studies and mission proposals are related to applications of the gradiometer data to gravity field and oceanography studies. However, for accurate positioning of the gradiometer instrument relative to the gravity field that it is measuring, the satellite depends entirely on GPS information. This presentation will discuss some aspects of precise GPS data processing that can be offered by ESOC, capitalizing on experience in routine GPS data processing at its IGS Analysis Centre.

The first area of interest is near real-time quality assessment and validation of the GOCE GPS data, based on independent orbit predictions for GOCE and for the GPS constellation. This can be integrated with the operational activities of the recently inaugurated Navigation Facility at ESOC, taking advantage of its stable operational infrastructure.

A second topic is accurate calibration of the GOCE GPS antenna phase pattern, to remove the related systematic errors in the GPS tracking data. Accurate antenna phase patterns can be determined a posteriori from processed GPS data, and can then be used to improve the GOCE products in a reprocessing stage.

The third area in which ESOC can contribute to the GOCE analysis is by independent assessment of the GOCE gradiometer reference frame, which is realized by means of the GPS orbits that are used in GOCE orbit determination. To relate the gradiometer data to the actual Earth models of IERS, ESOC can provide a direct link between the GOCE orbit reference frame and the ITRF via simultaneous solutions for the GOCE orbit, the GPS satellite orbits and a substantial network of ITRF ground stations. The perfect internal consistency that such a solution offers between a GOCE orbit and an ITRF realization can be used to produce time series of transformation parameters between the GOCE science orbit, based on fixed a priori GPS products, and the ITRF.


Keywords: ESA European Space Agency - Agence spatiale europeenne, observation de la terre, earth observation, satellite remote sensing, teledetection, geophysique, altimetrie, radar, chimique atmospherique, geophysics, altimetry, radar, atmospheric chemistry