Satellite laser ranging to GPS and GLONASS

Sosnica, Krzysztof Jakub; Thaller, Daniela; Dach, Rolf; Steigenberger, Peter; Beutler, Gerhard; Arnold, Daniel; Jäggi, Adrian (2015). Satellite laser ranging to GPS and GLONASS. Journal of geodesy, 89(7), pp. 725-743. Springer 10.1007/s00190-015-0810-8

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Satellite laser ranging (SLR) to the satellites of the global navigation satellite systems (GNSS) provides substantial and valuable information about the accuracy and quality of GNSS orbits and allows for the SLR-GNSS co-location in space. In the framework of the NAVSTAR-SLR experiment two GPS satellites of Block-IIA were equipped with laser retroreflector arrays (LRAs), whereas all satellites of the GLONASS system are equipped with LRAs in an operational mode. We summarize the outcome of the NAVSTAR-SLR experiment by processing 20 years of SLR observations to GPS and 12 years of SLR observations to GLONASS satellites using the reprocessed microwave orbits provided by the center for orbit determination in Europe (CODE). The dependency of the SLR residuals on the size, shape, and number of corner cubes in LRAs is studied. We show that the mean SLR residuals and the RMS of residuals depend on the coating of the LRAs and the block or type of GNSS satellites. The SLR mean residuals are also a function of the equipment used at SLR stations including the single-photon and multi-photon detection modes. We also show that the SLR observations to GNSS satellites are important to validate GNSS orbits and to assess deficiencies in the solar radiation pressure models. We found that the satellite signature effect, which is defined as a spread of optical pulse signals due to reflection from multiple reflectors, causes the variations of mean SLR residuals of up to 15 mm between the observations at nadir angles of 0∘ and 14∘. in case of multi-photon SLR stations. For single-photon SLR stations this effect does not exceed 1 mm. When using the new empirical CODE orbit model (ECOM), the SLR mean residual falls into the range 0.1–1.8 mm for high-performing single-photon SLR stations observing GLONASS-M satellites with uncoated corner cubes. For best-performing multi-photon stations the mean SLR residuals are between −12.2 and −25.6 mm due to the satellite signature effect.

Item Type:

Journal Article (Original Article)


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

UniBE Contributor:

Sosnica, Krzysztof Jakub, Thaller, Daniela, Dach, Rolf, Beutler, Gerhard, Arnold, Daniel, Jäggi, Adrian


500 Science > 520 Astronomy








Pierre Fridez

Date Deposited:

22 Jun 2015 09:48

Last Modified:

05 Dec 2022 14:47

Publisher DOI:





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