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Reducing the draconitic errors in GNSS geodetic products

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Systematic errors at harmonics of the GPS draconitic year have been found in diverse GPS-derived geodetic products like the geocenter \(Z\)-component, station coordinates, \(Y\)-pole rate and orbits (i.e. orbit overlaps). The GPS draconitic year is the repeat period of the GPS constellation w.r.t. the Sun which is about 351 days. Different error sources have been proposed which could generate these spurious signals at the draconitic harmonics. In this study, we focus on one of these error sources, namely the radiation pressure orbit modeling deficiencies. For this purpose, three GPS+GLONASS solutions of 8 years (2004–2011) were computed which differ only in the solar radiation pressure (SRP) and satellite attitude models. The models employed in the solutions are: (1) the CODE (5-parameter) radiation pressure model widely used within the International GNSS Service community, (2) the adjustable box-wing model for SRP impacting GPS (and GLONASS) satellites, and (3) the adjustable box-wing model upgraded to use non-nominal yaw attitude, specially for satellites in eclipse seasons. When comparing the first solution with the third one we achieved the following in the GNSS geodetic products. Orbits: the draconitic errors in the orbit overlaps are reduced for the GPS satellites in all the harmonics on average 46, 38 and 57 % for the radial, along-track and cross-track components, while for GLONASS satellites they are mainly reduced in the cross-track component by 39 %. Geocenter \(Z\)-component: all the odd draconitic harmonics found when the CODE model is used show a very important reduction (almost disappearing with a 92 % average reduction) with the new radiation pressure models. Earth orientation parameters: the draconitic errors are reduced for the \(X\)-pole rate and especially for the \(Y\)-pole rate by 24 and 50 % respectively. Station coordinates: all the draconitic harmonics (except the 2nd harmonic in the North component) are reduced in the North, East and Height components, with average reductions of 41, 39 and 35 % respectively. This shows, that part of the draconitic errors currently found in GNSS geodetic products are definitely induced by the CODE radiation pressure orbit modeling deficiencies.

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  1. .

  2. Over all the draconitic harmonics and weighted with the average values of solutions 1 and 3 such that small draconitic errors also have small contributions to the final average.

  3. The \(RSW\) components are defined as: radial \((R)\), along-track \((S)\) and cross-track \((W)\).



  6. The analysis strategy summaries can be found at:

  7. This reduction may not be easily seen in Fig. 8 due to the logarithmic scale, but it can be computed from the numerical values given in Table 6.


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This work has been funded by the DFG projects “LEO orbit modeling improvement and application for GNSS and DORIS LEO satellites” and “Geodätische und geodynamische Nutzung reprozessierter GPS-, GLONASS- und SLR-Daten”.

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Correspondence to C. J. Rodriguez-Solano.

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Rodriguez-Solano, C.J., Hugentobler, U., Steigenberger, P. et al. Reducing the draconitic errors in GNSS geodetic products. J Geod 88, 559–574 (2014).

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