Sub-daily alias and draconitic errors in the IGS orbits
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- Griffiths, J. & Ray, J.R. GPS Solut (2013) 17: 413. doi:10.1007/s10291-012-0289-1
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Harmonic signals with a fundamental period near the GPS draconitic year (351.2 days) and overtones up to at least the sixth multiple have been observed in the power spectra of nearly all products of the International GNSS Service (IGS), including station position time series, apparent geocenter motions, orbit jumps between successive days, and midnight discontinuities in earth orientation parameter (EOP) rates. Two main mechanisms have been suggested for the harmonics: mismodeling of orbit dynamics and aliasing of near-sidereal local station multipath effects. Others have studied the propagation of local multipath errors into draconitic position variations, but orbit-related processes have been less examined. We elaborate our earlier analysis of GPS day-boundary orbit discontinuities where we observed some draconitic features as well as prominent spectral bands near 29-, 14-, 9-, and 7-day periods. Finer structures within the sub-seasonal bands fall close to the expected alias frequencies for 24-h sampling of sub-daily EOP tide lines but do not coincide precisely. While once-per-revolution empirical orbit parameters should strongly absorb any sub-daily EOP tide errors due to near-resonance of their respective periods, the observed differences require explanation. This has been done by simulating EOP tidal errors and checking their impact on a long series of estimated daily GPS orbits and EOPs. Indeed, simulated tidal aliases are found to be very similar to the observed IGS orbital features in the sub-seasonal bands. Moreover and unexpectedly, some low draconitic harmonics were also produced, potentially a source for the widespread errors in most IGS products. The results from this study are further evidence for the need of an improved sub-daily EOP tide model.