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An improved empirical harmonic model of the celestial intermediate pole offsets from a global VLBI solution

Belda, Santiago; Heinkelmann, Robert; Ferrándiz, José M.; Karbon, Maria; Nilsson, Tobias; Schuh, Harald

FG Satellitengeodäsie

Very Long Baseline Interferometry (VLBI) is the only space geodetic technique capable of measuring all the Earth orientation parameters (EOP) accurately and simultaneously. Modeling the Earth's rotational motion in space within the stringent consistency goals of the Global Geodetic Observing System (GGOS) makes VLBI observations essential for constraining the rotation theories. However, the inaccuracy of early VLBI data and the outdated products could cause non-compliance with these goals. In this paper, we perform a global VLBI analysis of sessions with different processing settings to determine a new set of empirical corrections to the precession offsets and rates, and to the amplitudes of a wide set of terms included in the IAU 2006/2000A precession-nutation theory. We discuss the results in terms of consistency, systematic errors, and physics of the Earth. We find that the largest improvements w.r.t. the values from IAU 2006/2000A precession-nutation theory are associated with the longest periods (e.g., 18.6-yr nutation). A statistical analysis of the residuals shows that the provided corrections attain an error reduction at the level of 15 μas. Additionally, including a Free Core Nutation (FCN) model into a priori Celestial Pole Offsets (CPOs) provides the lowest Weighted Root Mean Square (WRMS) of residuals. We show that the CPO estimates are quite insensitive to TRF choice, but slightly sensitive to the a priori EOP and the inclusion of different VLBI sessions. Finally, the remaining residuals reveal two apparent retrograde signals with periods of nearly 2069 and 1034 days.