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Two methods to determine scale-independent GPS PCOs and GNSS-based terrestrial scale: comparison and cross-check

Huang, Wen; Männel, Benjamin; Brack, Andreas; Schuh, Harald

FG Satellitengeodäsie

The GPS satellite transmitter antenna phase center offsets (PCOs) can be estimated in a global adjustment by constraining the ground station coordinates to the current International Terrestrial Reference Frame (ITRF). Therefore, the derived PCO values rest on the terrestrial scale parameter of the frame. Consequently, the PCO values transfer this scale to any subsequent GNSS solution. A method to derive scale-independent PCOs without introducing the terrestrial scale of the frame is the prerequisite to derive an independent GNSS scale factor that can contribute to the datum definition of the next ITRF realization. By fixing the Galileo satellite transmitter antenna PCOs to the ground calibrated values from the released metadata, the GPS satellite PCOs in the z-direction (z-PCO) and a GNSS-based terrestrial scale parameter can be determined in GPS + Galileo processing. An alternative method is based on the gravitational constraint on low earth orbiters (LEOs) in the integrated processing of GPS and LEOs. We determine the GPS z-PCO and the GNSS-based scale using both methods by including the current constellation of Galileo and the three LEOs of the Swarm mission. For the first time, direct comparison and cross-check of the two methods are performed. They provide mean GPS z-PCO corrections of −186±25 mm and −221±37 mm with respect to the IGS values and +1.55±0.22 ppb (parts per billion) and +1.72±0.31 in the terrestrial scale with respect to the IGS14 reference frame. The results of both methods agree with each other with only small differences. Due to the larger number of Galileo observations, the Galileo-PCO-fixed method leads to more precise and stable results. In the joint processing of GPS + Galileo + Swarm in which both methods are applied, the constraint on Galileo dominates the results. We discuss and analyze how fixing either the Galileo transmitter antenna z-PCO or the Swarm receiver antenna z-PCO in the combined GPS + Galileo + Swarm processing propagates to the respective freely estimated z-PCO of Swarm and Galileo.