Radiometry performance of the VGOS receivers of the Onsala twin telescopes
Conference poster, 2023

With the introduction of the VLBI Global Observing System (VGOS) the parallel use of the VGOS receiver as radiometer in order to estimate the wet propagation delay was recognised as a future possibility. That is when observations can be carried out at higher frequencies, closer to the water vapour emission line at 22.2 GHz. An advantage of having the radiometer in the VLBI telescope, compared to the use of a stand-alone Water Vapour Radiometer (WVR), is that the radiometer will observe the same atmospheric volume that is causing the signal propagation delay.
We have assessed this method using simulations and arrived at the following two important conclusions: (1) the receiver’s measurements of the sky brightness temperature is likely to be the main error source, rather than the algorithm error introduced when calculating the wet delay from the observed sky brightness temperatures; (2) the method requires an extension of the frequency range of the receiver well beyond 14 GHz in order to increase the sensitivity for water vapour. The radiometric measurements shall be made within a couple of GHz from the emission line at 22.2 GHz. In spite of the fact that the present VGOS receivers observe at too low frequencies we find it meaningful to assess the radiometric stability of these receivers at the higher end of the frequency band. We have used one of the Onsala Twin Telescopes for this purpose, which is able to observe both polarizations in the frequency band 15.36–15.58 GHz. The system temperature has been observed at different elevation angles in order to separate the atmospheric sky brightness temperature and the receiver noise temperature. The observations are carried out during different atmospheric conditions and the estimated sky temperatures are compared to the observations done with one of our stand-alone WVRs. By using one-frequency algorithms we may also, during cloud-free conditions, compare the wet propagation delays using 20.7 GHz observations from the stand-alone WVR and 15 GHz observations from the VGOS receiver.

Space geodesy, Water vapour radiometry


Gunnar Elgered

Chalmers, Space, Earth and Environment, Geoscience and Remote Sensing

Peter Forkman

Chalmers, Space, Earth and Environment

Rüdiger Haas

Chalmers, Space, Earth and Environment, Onsala Space Observatory

Eskil Varenius

Chalmers, Space, Earth and Environment, Geoscience and Remote Sensing

The 26th Meeting of the European VLBI Group for Geodesy and Astrometry (EVGA)
Kötzting, Germany,

Subject Categories

Astronomy, Astrophysics and Cosmology

Other Earth and Related Environmental Sciences

Communication Systems


Basic sciences


Onsala Space Observatory



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