, Volume 85, Issue 11, pp 819-843
Date: 18 Oct 2011

First GOCE gravity field models derived by three different approaches

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Three gravity field models, parameterized in terms of spherical harmonic coefficients, have been computed from 71 days of GOCE (Gravity field and steady-state Ocean Circulation Explorer) orbit and gradiometer data by applying independent gravity field processing methods. These gravity models are one major output of the European Space Agency (ESA) project GOCE High-level Processing Facility (HPF). The processing philosophies and architectures of these three complementary methods are presented and discussed, emphasizing the specific features of the three approaches. The resulting GOCE gravity field models, representing the first models containing the novel measurement type of gravity gradiometry ever computed, are analysed and assessed in detail. Together with the coefficient estimates, full variance-covariance matrices provide error information about the coefficient solutions. A comparison with state-of-the-art GRACE and combined gravity field models reveals the additional contribution of GOCE based on only 71 days of data. Compared with combined gravity field models, large deviations appear in regions where the terrestrial gravity data are known to be of low accuracy. The GOCE performance, assessed against the GRACE-only model ITG-Grace2010s, becomes superior at degree 150, and beyond. GOCE provides significant additional information of the global Earth gravity field, with an accuracy of the 2-month GOCE gravity field models of 10 cm in terms of geoid heights, and 3 mGal in terms of gravity anomalies, globally at a resolution of 100 km (degree/order 200).