GPS Solutions

, Volume 8, Issue 3, pp 170–180 | Cite as

Improved relativistic transformations in GPS

  • J. Kouba
Original Article


For GPS satellite clocks, a nominal (hardware) frequency offset and a conventional periodic relativistic correction derived as a dot product of the satellite position and velocity vectors, are used to compensate the relativistic effects. The conventional hardware clock rate offset of 38,575.008 ns/day corresponds to a nominal orbit semi-major axis of about 26,561,400 m. For some of the GPS satellites, the departures from the nominal semi-major axis can cause an apparent clock rate up to 10 ns/day. GPS orbit perturbations, together with the earth gravity field oblateness, which is largely responsible for the orbit perturbations, cause the standard GPS relativistic transformations to depart from the rigorous relativity transformation by up to 0.2 ns/day. In addition, the conventional periodic relativistic correction exhibits periodic errors with amplitudes of about 0.1 and 0.2 ns, with periods of about 6 h and 14 days, respectively. Using an analytical integration of the gravity oblateness term (J2), a simple analytical approximation was derived for the apparent clock rate and the 6-h periodic errors of the standard GPS gravity correction. For daily linear representations of GPS satellite clocks, the improved relativistic formula was found to agree with the precise numerical integration of the GPS relativistic effects within about 0.015 ns. For most of the Block IIR satellites, the 6-h periodical errors of the GPS conventional relativistic correction are already detectable in the recent IGS final clock combinations.


GPS Satellite positioning Relativistic time transformations Orbit perturbations 



The author is also indebted to Jim Ray of the US NGS, P. Héroux and P. Tétreault of Geodetic Survey Division, NRCan, who have kindly agreed to read this contribution and provided the author with valuable suggestions and comments.


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Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag 2004

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Geodetic Survey DivisionNRCanOttawaCanada

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