GOCE gravity field processing strategy

R. Pail, G. Plank

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

17 Scopus citations


A processing strategy and the corresponding software architecture for the processing of GOCE (Gravity field and steady-state Ocean Circulation Explorer) observables is presented and described, with the major objective to compute a high-accuracy, high-resolution spherical harmonic model of the Earth's gravity field. The combination of two numerical solution strategies, i.e. the rigorous solution of the corresponding large normal equation systems applying parallel processing (on a PC cluster) as the core solver, and the fast semianalytic approach as a quick-look gravity field analysis (QL-GFA) tool, is proposed. Such a method fusion benefits from the advantages of the individual components: the rigorous inversion of the system providing also the full variance-covariance information, and the quickness enabling the consecutive production of intermediate gravity field solutions, for the purpose to analyse partial and incomplete data sets and to derive a diagnosis of the performance of the GOCE measurement system. The functionality and operability of the individual components are demonstrated in the framework of a closed loop simulation, which is based on a realistic mission scenario both in terms of the orbit configuration and the coloured measuring noise. Special concern is given to the accuracy of the recovered coefficients, the numerical behaviour, the required computing time, and the particular role of the individual modules within the processing chain. In the case of the core solver, it is demonstrated that the assembling and rigorous solution of large normal equation systems can be handled by using Beowulf clusters within a reasonable computing time. The application of the quick-look tool to partial data sets with short-term data gaps is demonstrated on the basis of several case studies. Additionally, the spectral analysis of the residuals of the adjustment is presented as a valuable tool for the verification of the noise characteristics of the GOCE gradiometer.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)289-309
Number of pages21
JournalStudia Geophysica et Geodaetica
Issue number2
StatePublished - 2004
Externally publishedYes


  • Data gaps
  • Distributed non-approximative adjustment
  • Field analysis
  • Global gravity field
  • PSD estimation
  • Satellite gravity gradiometry
  • Spherical harmonics


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