Adjustable box-wing model for solar radiation pressure impacting GPS satellites

C. J. Rodriguez-Solano, U. Hugentobler, P. Steigenberger

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

135 Scopus citations

Abstract

One of the major uncertainty sources affecting Global Positioning System (GPS) satellite orbits is the direct solar radiation pressure. In this paper a new model for the solar radiation pressure on GPS satellites is presented that is based on a box-wing satellite model, and assumes nominal attitude. The box-wing model is based on the physical interaction between solar radiation and satellite surfaces, and can be adjusted to fit the GPS tracking data. To compensate the effects of solar radiation pressure, the International GNSS Service (IGS) analysis centers employ a variety of approaches, ranging from purely empirical models based on in-orbit behavior, to physical models based on pre-launch spacecraft structural analysis. It has been demonstrated, however, that the physical models fail to predict the real orbit behavior with sufficient accuracy, mainly due to deviations from nominal attitude, inaccurately known optical properties, or aging of the satellite surfaces. The adjustable box-wing model presented in this paper is an intermediate approach between the physical/analytical models and the empirical models. The box-wing model fits the tracking data by adjusting mainly the optical properties of the satellite's surfaces. In addition, the so called Y-bias and a parameter related to a rotation lag angle of the solar panels around their rotation axis (about 1.5° for Block II/IIA and 0.5° for Block IIR) are estimated. This last parameter, not previously identified for GPS satellites, is a key factor for precise orbit determination. For this study GPS orbits are generated based on one year (2007) of tracking data, with the processing scheme derived from the Center for Orbit Determination in Europe (CODE). Two solutions are computed, one using the adjustable box-wing model and one using the CODE empirical model. Using this year of data the estimated parameters and orbits are analyzed. The performance of the models is comparable, when looking at orbit overlap and orbit prediction errors. Nevertheless, the models show important differences between orbits at the 1–2 cm level and total accelerations (up to 5×10 -9 m/s 2 ). The differences are mainly due to the fact that the box-wing model is based on the physical interaction between solar radiation and satellite, while the CODE empirical model is not.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1113-1128
Number of pages16
JournalAdvances in Space Research
Volume49
Issue number7
DOIs
StatePublished - 1 Apr 2012

Keywords

  • Box-wing satellite model
  • GPS
  • Precise orbit determination
  • Solar radiation pressure

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