GOCE: assessment of GPS-only gravity field determination

Jäggi, Adrian; Bock, Heike; Meyer, Ulrich; Beutler, Gerhard; van den IJssel, Jose (2015). GOCE: assessment of GPS-only gravity field determination. Journal of geodesy, 89(1), pp. 33-48. Springer 10.1007/s00190-014-0759-z

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The GOCE satellite was orbiting the Earth in a Sun-synchronous orbit at a very low altitude for more than 4 years. This low orbit and the availability of high-quality data make it worthwhile to assess the contribution of GOCE GPS data to the recovery of both the static and time-variable gravity fields. We use the kinematic positions of the official GOCE precise science orbit (PSO) product to perform gravity field determination using the Celestial Mechanics Approach. The generated gravity field solutions reveal severe systematic errors centered along the geomagnetic equator. Their size is significantly coupled with the ionospheric density and thus generally increasing over the mission period. The systematic errors may be traced back to the kinematic positions of the PSO product and eventually to the ionosphere-free GPS carrier phase observations used for orbit determination. As they cannot be explained by the current higher order ionospheric correction model recommended by the IERS Conventions 2010, an empirical approach is presented by discarding GPS data affected by large ionospheric changes. Such a measure yields a strong reduction of the systematic errors along the geomagnetic equator in the gravity field recovery, and only marginally reduces the set of useable kinematic positions by at maximum 6 % for severe ionosphere conditions. Eventually it is shown that GOCE gravity field solutions based on kinematic positions have a limited sensitivity to the largest annual signal related to land hydrology.

Item Type:

Journal Article (Further Contribution)


08 Faculty of Science > Other Institutions > Emeriti, Faculty of Science
08 Faculty of Science > Institute of Astronomy

UniBE Contributor:

Jäggi, Adrian, Bock, Heike, Meyer, Ulrich, Beutler, Gerhard


500 Science > 520 Astronomy








Pierre Fridez

Date Deposited:

27 Apr 2015 10:49

Last Modified:

05 Dec 2022 14:45

Publisher DOI:






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