Evaluation of the ITRF2008 GPS vertical velocities using satellite antenna z-offsets
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We develop a method to evaluate the terrestrial reference frame (TRF) scale rate error using Global Positioning System (GPS) satellite antenna phase center offset (APCO) parameters and apply it to ITRF2008. We search for the TRF in which z-APCO parameters have the smallest drift. In order to provide realistic error bars for the z-APCO drifts, we pay attention to model periodic variations and auto-correlated noise processes in the z-APCO time series. We will show that the GPS scale rate with respect to a frame is, as a first approximation, proportional to the estimated mean z-APCO trend if that frame is used to constrain station positions. Thus, an ITRF2008 scale rate error between −0.27 and −0.06 mm/yr depending on the GPS analysis center can be estimated, which demonstrates the high quality of the newly constructed ITRF2008. We will also demonstrate that the traditional estimates of the GPS scale rate from 7-parameter similarity transformations are consistent with our newly derived GPS scale rates with respect to ITRF2008 within two sigmas. We find using International GNSS Service (IGS) products that the traditional approach is relevant for scale rate determination even if some of the z-APCO values supplied by the IGS were not simultaneously calibrated. As the scale rate is related to the accuracy of vertical velocities, our estimates supply a conservative evaluation that can be used for error budget computation.
KeywordsTerrestrial reference frame GPS Satellite antenna phase center Space geodetic techniques Kalman filter
This work was partly funded by the Centre National d’Etudes Spatiales (CNES) through a TOSCA grant. We thank the contributing IGS ACs for providing their solutions. We are grateful to two anonymous reviewers for their constructive comments. We also thank David Coulot for his careful reading of the manuscript.
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