GENESIS: co-location of geodetic techniques in space

Pacôme Delva*, Zuheir Altamimi, Alejandro Blazquez, Mathis Blossfeld, Johannes Böhm, Pascal Bonnefond, Jean-Paul Boy, Sean Bruinsma, Grzegorz Bury, Miltiadis Chatzinikos, Alexandre Couhert, Clément Courde, Rolf Dach, Veronique Dehant, Simone Dell’Agnello, Gunnar Elgered, Werner Enderle, Pierre Exertier, Susanne Glaser, Rüdiger HaasWen Huang, Urs Hugentobler, Adrian Jäggi, Ozgur Karatekin, Frank G. Lemoine, Christophe Le Poncin-Lafitte, Susanne Lunz, Benjamin Männel, Flavien Mercier, Laurent Métivier, Benoît Meyssignac, Jürgen Müller, Axel Nothnagel, Felix Perosanz, R. Rietbroek, Markus Rothacher, Harald Schuh, Hakan Sert, Krzysztof Sosnica, Paride Testani, Javier Ventura-Traveset, Gilles Wautelet, Radoslaw Zajdel

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleAcademicpeer-review

11 Citations (Scopus)
40 Downloads (Pure)


Improving and homogenizing time and space reference systems on Earth and, more specifically, realizing the Terrestrial Reference Frame (TRF) with an accuracy of 1 mm and a long-term stability of 0.1 mm/year are relevant for many scientific and societal endeavors. The knowledge of the TRF is fundamental for Earth and navigation sciences. For instance, quantifying sea level change strongly depends on an accurate determination of the geocenter motion but also of the positions of continental and island reference stations, such as those located at tide gauges, as well as the ground stations of tracking networks. Also, numerous applications in geophysics require absolute millimeter precision from the reference frame, as for example monitoring tectonic motion or crustal deformation, contributing to a better understanding of natural hazards. The TRF accuracy to be achieved represents the consensus of various authorities, including the International Association of Geodesy (IAG), which has enunciated geodesy requirements for Earth sciences. Moreover, the United Nations Resolution 69/266 states that the full societal benefits in developing satellite missions for positioning and Remote Sensing of the Earth are realized only if they are referenced to a common global geodetic reference frame at the national, regional and global levels. Today we are still far from these ambitious accuracy and stability goals for the realization of the TRF. However, a combination and co-location of all four space geodetic techniques on one satellite platform can significantly contribute to achieving these goals. This is the purpose of the GENESIS mission, a component of the FutureNAV program of the European Space Agency. The GENESIS platform will be a dynamic space geodetic observatory carrying all the geodetic instruments referenced to one another through carefully calibrated space ties. The co-location of the techniques in space will solve the inconsistencies and biases between the different geodetic techniques in order to reach the TRF accuracy and stability goals endorsed by the various international authorities and the scientific community. The purpose of this paper is to review the state-of-the-art and explain the benefits of the GENESIS mission in Earth sciences, navigation sciences and metrology. This paper has been written and supported by a large community of scientists from many countries and working in several different fields of science, ranging from geophysics and geodesy to time and frequency metrology, navigation and positioning. As it is explained throughout this paper, there is a very high scientific consensus that the GENESIS mission would deliver exemplary science and societal benefits across a multidisciplinary range of Navigation and Earth sciences applications, constituting a global infrastructure that is internationally agreed to be strongly desirable.
Original languageEnglish
Article number5
JournalEarth, Planets and Space
Issue number1
Early online date11 Jan 2023
Publication statusPublished - Dec 2023




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