Challenging the Precision: Impact and Comparison of Non-Gravitational Force Models on Sentinel-3A Orbit Determination

Hackel, Stefan; Arnold, Daniel; Wermuth, Martin; Jäggi, Adrian; Montenbruck, Oliver (November 2016). Challenging the Precision: Impact and Comparison of Non-Gravitational Force Models on Sentinel-3A Orbit Determination. In: Ocean Surface Topography Science Team (OSTST) meeting. La Rochelle, France. 31.10.-04.11.2016.

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Since the beginning of satellite altimetry missions, the ocean surface topography community requires precise and accurate satellite orbits. With start of the satellite Sentinel-3A on February 16, 2016, two radio- and one altimeter onboard the satellite accomplish the Copernicus program with a ocean- and land monitoring mission, planned for a nominal mission lifetime of 7 years. The satellite is orbiting the Earth on a polar, Sun-synchronous trajectory at an altitude of 815 km. For the purpose of precise orbit determination, the satellite is equipped with a geodetic-grade dual-frequency Global Positioning System (GPS) receiver. The GPS measurements are employed together with a set of gravitational and non-gravitational models in a Reduced-Dynamic Orbit Determination (RDOD) approach, which combines the advantages of a dynamic and a kinematic positioning for deriving precise satellite orbits. However, especially the non-gravitational force models require sophisticated modeling techniques. Therefore, a satellite macro model is introduced, which allows a proper modeling of accelerations due to Solar Radiation Pressure (SRP), Earth Radiation Pressure (ERP), and atmospheric drag. Especially the Sun-synchronous orbit, and the huge solar array, which is loosely coupled to the satellite body, makes the precise orbit determination challenging. As members of the Copernicus Quality Working Group, the Astronomical Institute of the University of Bern (AIUB), and the German Aerospace Center (DLR) are, among others, responsible for the orbit validation of Sentinel-3A. Both groups make use of a satellite macro model within a reduced-dynamic approach but differ in the employed software solutions and the pseudo-stochastic modeling. Basically, the pseudo-stochastic parameters allow to compensate potential deficits in the employed force models. Within this poster, the modeling aspects are briefly introduced, followed by comparing the results of both groups. The results include the estimated empirical accelerations, and the estimated satellite orbits of Sentinel-3A. Furthermore, the orbit quality is assessed by Satellite Laser Ranging (SLR), an external and independent tool for orbit validation.

Item Type:

Conference or Workshop Item (Poster)


08 Faculty of Science > Institute of Astronomy

UniBE Contributor:

Arnold, Daniel and Jäggi, Adrian


500 Science > 520 Astronomy




Pierre Fridez

Date Deposited:

24 May 2017 10:56

Last Modified:

28 Nov 2020 02:27




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