Journal of Geodesy

, Volume 83, Issue 2, pp 121–127

Analysis of the bias between TOPEX and GPS vTEC determinations

Original Article

DOI: 10.1007/s00190-008-0244-7

Cite this article as:
Azpilicueta, F. & Brunini, C. J Geod (2009) 83: 121. doi:10.1007/s00190-008-0244-7


The TOPEX/Poseidon satellite was jointly developed and deployed by the National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA), USA, and the Centre National d’Etudes Spatiales (CNES), France (for details see Chelton et al. In: Fu L-L, Cazenave A (eds) International geophysics series, vol 69, ISBN 0-12-269545-3, Academic Press, CA, pp 1–131, 2001), with the main scientific goal of sea surface height monitoring. The process that ends with the TOPEX main observable (the range between the satellite and the sea surface) involves the measurement of several parameters of the radar pulses reflected by the sea surface and the computation of several other corrections. After several calibration campaigns performed by the Calibration/Validation team of the mission, it was found that TOPEX range determinations were systematically shorter than expected and it was decided to add an empirical correction of +15 mm to the TOPEX range-computation algorithm. As a by-product, TOPEX provides vertical total electron content (vTEC) determinations which have turned out to be a very important data source for the ionospheric research community. Since TOPEX vTEC measurements became available, several comparison studies have detected a constant bias, from +2 to +5 TECu, when TOPEX is compared to other vTEC sources, e.g., Global Positioning System (GPS), Doppler Orbitography and Radio-positioning Integrated by Satellite (DORIS), (TOPEX always greater than the others). In this work, we show that miscalibration of the corrections used in the TOPEX processing algorithm can cause the shortening effect of TOPEX ranges and at the same time the constant bias on the TOPEX vTEC values. It is also shown that changes on TOPEX System Biases of less than 10 mm for the Ku-band and between 40 and 70 mm for the C-band, can make both effects disappear. The analyzed hypothesis is supported by theoretical considerations and data analysis available in the specialized literature.


TOPEX total electron content (TEC) biasTOPEX system biasesGPS TEC

Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag 2008

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Facultad de Ciencias Astronómicas y GeofísicasUniversidad Nacional de La PlataLa PlataArgentina
  2. 2.Consejo Nacional de Investigaciones Científicas y TecnológicasBuenos AiresArgentina