GPS Solutions

, Volume 10, Issue 4, pp 249–261 | Cite as

Performance comparison of semicodeless GPS receivers for LEO satellites

  • Oliver MontenbruckEmail author
  • Miquel Garcia-Fernandez
  • Jacob Williams
Original Article


This report provides a detailed performance analysis of three semicodeless dual-frequency GPS receivers for use in low Earth orbit (LEO). The test set comprises the IGOR receiver, which represents a follow-on of the flight-proven BlackJack receiver, as well as two geodetic receivers (NovAtel OEM4-G2 and Septentrio PolaRx2), which are entirely based on commercial-off-the-shelf technology (COTS). All three receivers are considered for upcoming flight projects or experiments and have undergone at least a preliminary environmental qualification program. Using extensive signal simulator tests, the cold start signal acquisition, tracking sensitivity, differential code biases, raw measurement accuracy, and navigation accuracy of each receiver have been assessed. All tests are based on a common scenario that is representative of an actual space mission and provides a realistic simulation of the signal dynamics and quality on a scientific LEO satellite. Compared to the other receivers, the IGOR instrument exhibits a superior tracking sensitivity and is thus best suited for occultation measurements with low tangent point altitudes. The OEM4-G2 and PolaRx2 receivers are likewise shown to properly track dual-frequency GPS signals and normal signal levels and to provide accurate code and carrier phase measurements. Given their limited resource requirements, these receivers appear well suited for precise orbit determination applications and ionospheric sounding onboard of microsatellites with tight mission budgets.


Spaceborne GPS Semicodeless tracking IGOR OEM4-G2 PolaRx2 BlackJack 



Testing of the IGOR flight unit for the TerraSAR-X project has been enabled through the GeoForschungsZentrum, Potsdam, which also provided an engineering model of the CHAMP choke ring antenna for ground verification. Prof. E.G. Lightsey, Center for Space Research of the University of Texas at Austin, and Prof. Ch. Günther, Institute of Communications and Navigation of the German Aerospace Center (DLR), have kindly provided access to their Spirent GPS signal simulators. OEM4-G2 and PolaRx2 receivers with deactivated altitude and speed limitations have been provided by NovAtel, Canada, and Septentrio, Belgium, with permission of local governmental authorities. The authors gratefully acknowledge the support of all institutions and individuals, which have been vital for a successful performance of the present study.


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Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag 2006

Authors and Affiliations

  • Oliver Montenbruck
    • 1
    Email author
  • Miquel Garcia-Fernandez
    • 1
  • Jacob Williams
    • 2
  1. 1.German Space Operations CenterDeutsches Zentrum für Luft- und RaumfahrtWeßlingGermany
  2. 2.Center for Space ResearchUniversity of Texas at AustinAustinUSA

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