Precise orbit and clock determination for BeiDou-3 experimental satellites with yaw attitude analysis
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Five new-generation BeiDou-3 experimental satellites, called BeiDou-3e, have been launched into inclined geosynchronous orbit (IGSO) and medium orbit (MEO) since March 2015. In addition to newly designed signals and intersatellite links, different satellite buses, updated rubidium atomic frequency standards (RAFSs), and new passive hydrogen masers (PHMs) have been used. Using 15 stations, mainly in the Asia–Pacific region, we determined orbits and clock for both the BeiDou-3e and the regional BeiDou-2 satellites using the Extend CODE (Center for Orbit Determination in Europe) Orbit Model (ECOM). The orbit consistency, indicated by 3D orbit boundary discontinuity, is 50–70 and 40–60 cm for BeiDou-3e IGSO and MEO satellites, respectively, and better than 15 cm in radial component. Satellite laser ranging (SLR) validation gives about 17 and 10 cm for BeiDou-3e IGSO and MEO satellites. The BeiDou-3e satellites orbits show slightly better performance than the BeiDou-2 satellites as indicated by SLR. However, errors depending on the sun elongation angle were identified in SLR residuals for the BeiDou-3e IGSO C32 satellite, while such errors did not exist for BeiDou-2 IGSO/MEO and BeiDou-3e MEO satellites. No orbit accuracy degeneration for BeiDou-3e IGSO and MEO satellites was observed when the elevation angle (β angle) of the sun above the orbital plane was between − 4° and + 4°. In that case, the BeiDou-2 IGSO and MEO satellites are in orbit normal (ON) mode. An analysis of the yaw attitude identified that BeiDou-3e satellites did not use the ON mode, but experienced midnight- and noon-point maneuvers when the β angle is approximately between − 3° and + 3°. Compared with BeiDou-2 satellites, the onboard clocks of the BeiDou-3e IGSO satellites showed dramatic improved performance. The stability of BeiDou-3e IGSO satellites can be compared to the latest type of RAFSs employed onboard the GPS IIF satellites as well as the PHMs used onboard the Galileo satellites.
KeywordsBeiDou-3 Precise orbit determination Clock analysis Passive hydrogen masers Yaw attitude
The IGS MGEX, iGMAS, and ILRS are greatly acknowledged for providing the multi-GNSS and SLR tracking data. The research is partially supported by the National Natural Science Foundation of China (Grant No. 41504009, 41574030). Finally, the authors are also grateful for the comments and remarks of two reviewers and editor, which helped to significantly improve the manuscript.
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