Journal of Geodesy

, Volume 89, Issue 11, pp 1133–1144 | Cite as

Drift reduction in strapdown airborne gravimetry using a simple thermal correction

  • David BeckerEmail author
  • J. Emil Nielsen
  • Diogo Ayres-Sampaio
  • René Forsberg
  • Matthias Becker
  • Luísa Bastos
Original Article


Previous work has shown, that strapdown airborne gravimeters can have a comparable or even superior performance in the higher frequency domain (resolution of few kilometres), compared to classical stable-platform air gravimeters using springs, such as the LaCoste and Romberg (LCR) S-gravimeter. However, the longer wavelengths (tens of kilometres and more) usually suffer from drifts of the accelerometers of the strapdown inertial measurement unit (IMU). In this paper, we analyse the drift characteristics of the QA2000 accelerometers, which are the most widely used navigation-grade IMU accelerometers. A large portion of these drifts is shown to come from thermal effects. A lab calibration procedure is used to derive a thermal correction, which is then applied to data from 18 out of 19 flights from an airborne gravity campaign carried out in Chile in October 2013. The IMU-derived gravity closure error can be reduced by 91 % on average, from 3.72 mGal/h to only 0.33 mGal/h (RMS), which is an excellent long-term performance for strapdown gravimetry. Also, the IMU results are compared to the LCR S-gravimeter, which is known to have an excellent long-term stability. Again, the thermal correction yields a significant reduction of errors, with IMU and LCR aerogravity results being consistent at the 2 mGal level.


Airborne gravimetry Strapdown IMU QA2000 Thermal drift Thermal correction 



The Chile aerogravity campaign was carried out by DTU Space in cooperation with the University of Bergen, Norway, Instituto Geográfico Militar, Chile, and the US National Geospatial-Intelligence Agency. Arne Gidskehaug, University of Bergen, participated in the field campaign, operating and maintaining the S-99 gravimeter. The authors would like to thank the reviewers and the associate editor for their critical remarks and suggestions, which have led to major improvements of the manuscript.


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Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag Berlin Heidelberg 2015

Authors and Affiliations

  • David Becker
    • 1
    Email author
  • J. Emil Nielsen
    • 2
  • Diogo Ayres-Sampaio
    • 3
    • 4
  • René Forsberg
    • 2
  • Matthias Becker
    • 1
  • Luísa Bastos
    • 3
    • 4
  1. 1.Physical and Satellite GeodesyTechnische Universitaet DarmstadtDarmstadtGermany
  2. 2.Danish National Space InstituteTechnical University of DenmarkKgs. LyngbyDenmark
  3. 3.Astronomical Observatory, Faculty of ScienceUniversity of PortoVila Nova de GaiaPortugal
  4. 4.Department of Geosciences Environment and Spatial Planning, Faculty of ScienceUniversity of PortoPortoPortugal

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