Application of time transfer functions to Gaia's global astrometry. Validation on DPAC simulated Gaia-like observations

Bertone, Stefano; Vecchiato, A.; Bucciarelli, B.; Crosta, M.; Lattanzi, M. G.; Agnonin, M.-C.; Le Poncin-Laffitte, C. (2017). Application of time transfer functions to Gaia's global astrometry. Validation on DPAC simulated Gaia-like observations. Astronomy and astrophysics, 608(A83), A83. EDP Sciences 10.1051/0004-6361/201731654

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Context. A key objective of the ESA Gaia satellite is the realization of a quasi-inertial reference frame at visual wavelengths by means of global astrometric techniques. This requires accurate mathematical and numerical modeling of relativistic light propagation, as well as double-blind-like procedures for the internal validation of the results, before they are released to the scientific community at large.

Aims. We aim to specialize the time transfer functions (TTF) formalism to the case of the Gaia observer and prove its applicability to the task of global sphere reconstruction (GSR), in anticipation of its inclusion in the GSR system, already featuring the Relativistic Astrometric MODel (RAMOD) suite, as an additional semi-external validation of the forthcoming Gaia baseline astrometric solutions.

Methods. We extended the current GSR framework and software infrastructure (GSR2) to include TTF relativistic observation equations compatible with Gaia’s operations. We used simulated data generated by the Gaia Data Processing and Analysis Consortium (DPAC) to obtain different least-squares estimations of the full (five-parameter) stellar spheres and gauge results. These were compared to analogous solutions obtained with the current RAMOD model in GSR2 (RAMOD@GSR2) and to the catalog generated with the Gaia RElativistic Model (GREM), the model baselined for Gaia and used to generate the DPAC synthetic data.

Results. Linearized least-squares TTF solutions are based on spheres of about 132 000 primary stars uniformly distributed on the sky and simulated observations spanning the entire 5 yr range of Gaia’s nominal operational lifetime. The statistical properties of the results compare well with those of GREM. Finally, comparisons to RAMOD@GSR2 solutions confirmed the known lower accuracy of that model and allowed us to establish firm limits on the quality of the linearization point outside of which an iteration for non-linearity is required for its proper convergence. This has proved invaluable as RAMOD@GSR2 is prepared to go into operations on real satellite data.

Item Type:

Journal Article (Original Article)


08 Faculty of Science > Institute of Astronomy

UniBE Contributor:

Bertone, Stefano


500 Science > 520 Astronomy




EDP Sciences




Pierre Fridez

Date Deposited:

23 Apr 2018 07:08

Last Modified:

05 Dec 2022 15:12

Publisher DOI:


Uncontrolled Keywords:

astrometry, gravitation, methods: data analysis, space vehicles: instruments




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