Journal of Geodesy

, Volume 92, Issue 9, pp 1003–1021 | Cite as

Consistent estimation of geodetic parameters from SLR satellite constellation measurements

  • Mathis BloßfeldEmail author
  • Sergei Rudenko
  • Alexander Kehm
  • Natalia Panafidina
  • Horst Müller
  • Detlef Angermann
  • Urs Hugentobler
  • Manuela Seitz
Original Article


In this paper, we consistently estimate geodetic parameters such as weekly 3-D station coordinates, Earth orientation parameters (EOP) including daily x/y-pole coordinates and the excess length of day \(\Delta \hbox {LOD}\), and selected weekly Earth’s gravitational field (Stokes) coefficients up to degree and order 6 from Satellite Laser Ranging measurements to up to 11 geodetic satellites. The SLR constellation consists of LAGEOS-1/2, Etalon-1/2, Stella, Starlette, Ajisai, Larets, LARES, BLITS and WESTPAC, and its observations cover a time span of 38 years ranging from February 16, 1979, to April 30, 2017. If multiple satellites with various altitudes and orbit inclinations are combined, correlations between estimated parameters are significantly reduced. This allows us (i) to investigate the ability of satellite constellations to reduce existing correlations and (ii) to estimate reliable parameters with higher precision compared to the standard 4-satellite constellation (LAGEOS-1/2, Etalon-1/2) which is currently used by the International Laser Ranging Service for the determination of the Terrestrial Reference Frame (TRF) and EOP products. In particular, the Stokes coefficients, EOP and TRF datum parameters (three translations, three rotations, one scale factor), which are highly correlated with satellite-specific orbit parameters, are improved. From our investigations, we found for an 11-satellite solution compared to the above-mentioned 4-satellite solution a decrease in the scatter of the TRF datum parameters of up to 37%, the transformation residuals are decreased by up to 22%, the scatter of the EOP is decreased by up to 22%, and their mean values are decreased by up to 84% w.r.t. the reference solutions. The largest improvement is obtained for the Stokes coefficients which significantly benefit from a combination of multiple satellites (inclinations and orbit altitudes). In total, single coefficients are improved by up to 93% and the overall improvement is up to 74%. Moreover, it could be clearly identified that Ajisai significantly disturbs the TRF solution due to an erroneous center-of-mass correction. We further quantify the impact of specific satellites on the determination of different geodetic parameters and finally evaluate the potential of the existing SLR-tracked spherical satellite constellation to support the goals of GGOS.


GGOS TRF EOP Stokes coefficients SLR Multi-satellite LAGEOS Etalon Ajisai Stella Starlette BLITS Larets LARES 



The work described in this paper was carried out within the project “Consistent dynamic satellite reference frames and terrestrial geodetic datum parameters” funded by the German Research Foundation (DFG) via the DFG Research Unit 1503 “Space-Time Reference Systems for Monitoring Global Change and for Precise Navigation in Space.” The authors want to thank the Journal of Geodesy Editor-in-Chief Prof. Jürgen Kusche, the guest editor to this special issue Dr. Robert Heinkelmann and the three anonymous reviewers for their fruitful discussion of the manuscript.


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Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag GmbH Germany, part of Springer Nature 2018

Authors and Affiliations

  • Mathis Bloßfeld
    • 1
    Email author
  • Sergei Rudenko
    • 1
  • Alexander Kehm
    • 1
  • Natalia Panafidina
    • 2
  • Horst Müller
    • 1
  • Detlef Angermann
    • 1
  • Urs Hugentobler
    • 2
  • Manuela Seitz
    • 1
  1. 1.Deutsches Geodätisches Forschungsinstitut at the Technische Universität München (DGFI-TUM)MunichGermany
  2. 2.Technische Universität München (TUM)MunichGermany

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