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Very Long Baseline Interferometry: Dependencies on Frequency Stability

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Very Long Baseline Interferometry (VLBI) is a differential technique observing radiation of compact extra-galactic radio sources with pairs of radio telescopes. For these observations, the frequency standards at the telescopes need to have very high stability. In this article we discuss why this is, and we investigate exactly how precise the frequency standards need to be. Four areas where good clock performance is needed are considered: coherence, geodetic parameter estimation, correlator synchronization, and UT1 determination. We show that in order to ensure the highest accuracy of VLBI, stability similar to that of a hydrogen maser is needed for time-scales up to a few hours. In the article, we are considering both traditional VLBI where extra-galactic radio sources are observed, as well as observation of man-made artificial radio sources emitted by satellites or spacecrafts.

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We are very grateful to the reviewer of this article for providing many very detailed comments and suggestions beyond the normal level of a review. These helped us to significantly improve the quality of the paper.

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Correspondence to Axel Nothnagel.

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High Performance Clocks with Special Emphasis on Geodesy and Geophysics and Applications to Other Bodies of the Solar System

Edited by Rafael Rodrigo, Véronique Dehant, Leonid Gurvits, Michael Kramer, Ryan Park, Peter Wolf and John Zarnecki

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Nothnagel, A., Nilsson, T. & Schuh, H. Very Long Baseline Interferometry: Dependencies on Frequency Stability. Space Sci Rev 214, 66 (2018).

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