VLBI and GPS inter- and intra-technique combinations on the observation level for evaluation of TRF and EOP
Journal article, 2021
We study the effects of combination on the observation level (COL) of different space-geodetic techniques and of networks of the same technique and present the corresponding improvement for the determination of station positions and earth orientation parameters. Data from the continuous geodetic very long baseline interferometry (VLBI) campaign CONT17 are used in a batch least-squares (LSQ) estimator. This campaign includes 15 days of observations with two legacy S/X networks, namely Legacy-1 (L1) and Legacy-2 (L2). For this study the VLBI L1 network is used as the base and reference solution. Data from the L1 network are combined first with data from co-located Global Positioning System (GPS) stations by estimating common tropospheric parameters. The derived station positions repeatabilities of the VLBI and GPS networks are evaluated with respect to single-technique solutions. In terms of precision, we find a 25% improvement for the vertical repeatability of the L1 network, and a 10% improvement for the horizontal one. The GPS network also benefits by 20% and 10% in the horizontal and vertical components, respectively. Furthermore, a combined solution using data of the L1 and L2 network is performed by estimating common earth orientation parameters. The combined L1&GPS and L1&L2 solutions are compared to the reference solution by investigating UT1 and polar motion estimates. UT1 is evaluated in terms of mean bias and formal errors with respect to the International Earth Rotation Service (IERS) C04 products which were used as a priori values. The L1&GPS solution has the lowest formal error and mean bias for UT1 with a 30% improvement. The weighted root mean square (WRMS) and weighted mean offset (WMO) differences between the obtained polar motion estimates and the ones derived by the International GNSS Service (IGS) are also compared. We find that the L1&GPS solution gives the lowest WRMS and WMO, exhibiting an average 40% improvement with respect to the reference solution. The presented results highlight the potential of COL for ongoing transition to multi-space geodetic analysis, e.g., Global Navigation Satellite Systems (GNSS) with the next-generation VLBI system.
Combination on the observation level