Journal of Geodesy

, Volume 93, Issue 10, pp 1931–1942 | Cite as

Geocenter motion time series derived from GRACE GPS and LAGEOS observations

  • Zhigui KangEmail author
  • Byron Tapley
  • Jianli Chen
  • John Ries
  • Srinivas Bettadpur
Original Article


Accurate quantification of geocenter motion is important for maintaining the reference frame and estimating large-scale mass variations using the Gravity Recovery and Climate Experiment (GRACE) time-variable gravity solutions. Geocenter motion (equivalent to the variations in the degree-1 spherical harmonics of the gravity field) can be determined from different geodetic techniques and approaches, and the results generally show reasonable agreement, but significant differences still exist. To be more consistent with GRACE gravity solutions, here we present an improved approach to solve geocenter motion using GRACE GPS data. Over the past 15 years, GRACE satellites have acquired enough GPS data for studying the geocenter motion. In the meantime, data processing methods, reference system, and background geophysical models for GRACE precise orbit determination have also been significantly improved. Those aspects are very important for accurate determination of geocenter motion from GRACE GPS observations. For comparison, geocenter motion is also derived from LAGEOS satellite laser ranging (SLR) observations. With these independent geocenter motion solutions from GRACE GPS and LAGEOS SLR, we explore the reasons that lead to the differences between the solutions, and try to resolve these discrepancies. Daily geocenter motion time series from GRACE GPS data and 28-day geocenter variations from LAGEOS SLR observations for the time span 2003–2016 have been derived. Internal comparisons between the GRACE-A and GRACE-B geocenter motion time series and external comparisons between GRACE and LAGEOS show good agreements after using the improved approach. To verify the results, the annual geocenter motion from this study is compared with other recent geocenter motion solutions as well as predictions from geophysical models. The comparisons show reasonable agreements in both amplitude and phase with our improved approach.


Geocenter GRACE GPS LAGEOS Precise orbit determination 



The authors would like to thank the International Global Navigation Satellite System (GNSS) Service (IGS) for providing the GPS ground station data and GPS satellite orbit products and the International Laser Range Service (ILRS) for the SLR data ( This research was supported by NASA Contract NAS5-97213, NASA Grants NNX12AM86G, NNX17AG96G, NNX12AJ97G, and MEaSUREs-2018 (JPL Contract 1616713).


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Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag GmbH Germany, part of Springer Nature 2019

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Center for Space ResearchThe University of Texas at AustinAustinUSA

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