Journal of Geodesy

, Volume 89, Issue 12, pp 1217–1231 | Cite as

Error analysis of a new planar electrostatic gravity gradiometer for airborne surveys

  • Karim DouchEmail author
  • Isabelle Panet
  • Gwendoline Pajot-Métivier
  • Bruno Christophe
  • Bernard Foulon
  • Marie-Françoise Lequentrec-Lalancette
  • Michel Diament
Original Article


Moving-base gravity gradiometry has proven to be a convenient method to determine the Earth’s gravity field. The ESA mission GOCE (Gravity field and steady-state Ocean Circulation Explorer) has enabled to map the Earth gravity field and its gradients with a resolution of 80 km, leading to significant advances in physical oceanography and solid Earth physics. At smaller scales, airborne gravity gradiometry has been increasingly used during the past decade in mineral and hydrocarbon exploration. In both cases the sensitivity of gradiometers to the short wavelengths of the gravity field is of crucial interest. Here, we quantify and characterize the error on the gravity gradients estimated from measurements performed with a new instrument concept, called GREMLIT, for typical airborne conditions. GREMLIT is an ultra-sensitive planar gravitational gradiometer which consists in a planar acceleration gradiometer together with 3 gyroscopes. To conduct this error analysis, a simulation of a realistic airborne survey with GREMLIT is carried out. We first simulate realistic GREMLIT synthetic data, taking into account the acceleration gradiometer and gyroscope noises and biases and the variation of orientation of the measurement reference frame. Then, we estimate the gravity gradients from these data. Special attention is paid to the processing of the gyroscopes measurements whose accuracy is not commensurate with the ultra-sensitive gradiometer. We propose a method to calibrate the gyroscopes biases with a precision of the order \(10^{-8}\) rad/s. In order to transform the tensor from the measurement frame to the local geodetic frame, we estimate the error induced when replacing the non-measured elements of the gravity gradient tensor by an a priori model. With the appropriate smoothing, we show that it is possible to achieve a precision better than 2E for an along-track spatial resolution of 2 km.


Airborne gravitational gradiometry Error analysis  Electrostatic accelerometer 



The authors would like to thank José Cali, Françoise Duquenne, Jérôme Verdun and IGN, for providing the time series of the flight dynamics of the airborne survey in Corsica. This study benefits from a grant from ANR ASTRID and Karim Douch from a PhD grant from ONERA. This is IPGP contribution number 3655.


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Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag Berlin Heidelberg 2015

Authors and Affiliations

  • Karim Douch
    • 1
    • 2
    Email author
  • Isabelle Panet
    • 3
  • Gwendoline Pajot-Métivier
    • 3
  • Bruno Christophe
    • 2
  • Bernard Foulon
    • 2
  • Marie-Françoise Lequentrec-Lalancette
    • 4
  • Michel Diament
    • 1
  1. 1.Institut de Physique du Globe de Paris, CNRSUniv Paris Diderot, Sorbonne Paris CitéParisFrance
  2. 2.Onera-The French Aerospace LabChâtillonFrance
  3. 3.IGN LAREG, Univ Paris Diderot, Sorbonne Paris CitéParis Cedex 13France
  4. 4.SHOM, CS 92803Brest Cedex 2France

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