, Volume 86, Issue 3, pp 221-239
Date: 23 Sep 2011

Methodology for the combination of sub-daily Earth rotation from GPS and VLBI observations

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Abstract

A combination procedure of Earth orientation parameters from Global Positioning System (GPS) and Very Long Baseline Interferometry (VLBI) observations was developed on the basis of homogeneous normal equation systems. The emphasis and purpose of the combination was the determination of sub-daily polar motion (PM) and universal time (UT1) for a long time-span of 13 years. Time series with an hourly resolution and a model for tidal variations of PM and UT1-TAI (dUT1) were estimated. In both cases, 14-day nutation corrections were estimated simultaneously with the ERPs. Due to the combination procedure, it was warranted that the strengths of both techniques were preserved. At the same time, only a minimum of de-correlating or stabilizing constraints were necessary. Hereby, a PM time series was determined, whose precision is mainly dominated by GPS observations. However, this setup benefits from the fact that VLBI delivered nutation and dUT1 estimates at the same time. An even bigger enhancement can be seen for the dUT1 estimation, where the high-frequency variations are provided by GPS, while the long term trend is defined by VLBI. The estimated combined tidal PM and dUT1 model was predominantly determined from the GPS observations. Overall, the combined tidal model for the first time completely comprises the geometrical benefits of VLBI and GPS observations. In terms of root mean squared (RMS) differences, the tidal amplitudes agree with other empirical single-technique tidal models below 4 μas in PM and 0.25 μs in dUT1. The noise floor of the tidal ERP model was investigated in three ways resulting in about 1 μas for diurnal PM and 0.07 μs for diurnal dUT1 while the semi-diurnal components have a slightly better accuracy.