Multi-GNSS precise orbit positioning for airborne gravimetry over Antarctica

Min Li, Tianhe Xu*, Biao Lu, Kaifei He

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleAcademicpeer-review

3 Citations (Scopus)


Accurate position, velocity, and acceleration information are critical for airborne gravimetry. In Antarctica, there is a sparse distribution of IGS stations, and the rough terrain makes it impractical to set up nearby reference stations. Therefore, traditional differential GPS techniques may be difficult to implement. Precise point positioning (PPP) is independent of reference stations and provides an unlimited operating distance. However, it is highly dependent on precise satellite orbit and clock information, and may be vulnerable to discontinuities of orbit or clock offsets. An extended PPP method, called precise orbit positioning (POP), is implemented towards multi-GNSS. This approach introduces a widely spaced network of stations and is independent of precise clock information, as it estimates satellite clock offsets and drifts “on-the-fly” and only relies on precise orbit information. The advantage of being independent of clock information is that the IGS ultra-rapid (predicted) products can be applied to real-time POP since the orbits can achieve an accuracy of about 5 cm. This becomes significant when applied to airborne gravimetry, as gravity results calculated from gravity measurements and GNSS solutions can be investigated in real time. By means of processing of 5 IGS stations over Antarctica, it turns out that the PPP solution is greatly affected by discontinuities of the IGS orbit and clock offsets at the day boundaries, accompanied with some biases as large as several decimeters in the vertical component. However, the POP solution remains robust and almost no large positioning errors appear, and the accuracy improves by about 50% in the north, east, and up coordinate components. The aircraft positions derived from relative positioning, PPP, and POP during the kinematic flight period generally agree at the decimeter level because of the lack of observed satellites with elevation angles higher than 60°. Nevertheless, the potential for POP to generate centimeter-level kinematic vertical positions over long baselines is illustrated. Moreover, the POP and double-difference derived velocities and accelerations agree with each other well in both static and kinematic flight periods. After a low-pass filter, the GNSS-based accelerations are of the order of 1 mgal and are considered useful for separating the disturbing kinematic accelerations from the gravity measurements.
Original languageEnglish
Article number53
Number of pages14
JournalGPS solutions
Issue number2
Early online date19 Mar 2019
Publication statusPublished - 1 Apr 2019
Externally publishedYes



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