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Rovera G.D.,Paris Observatory | Torre J.-M.,University of Nice Sophia Antipolis | Sherwood R.,NERC Space Geodesy Facility | Abgrall M.,Paris Observatory | And 3 more authors.
Metrologia | Year: 2014

We present a direct comparison between two different techniques for the relative calibration of time transfer between remote time scales when using the signals transmitted by the Global Positioning System (GPS). Relative calibration estimates the delay of equipment or the delay of a time transfer link with respect to reference equipment. It is based on the circulation of some travelling GPS equipment between the stations in the network, against which the local equipment is measured. Two techniques can be considered: first a station calibration by the computation of the hardware delays of the local GPS equipment; second the computation of a global hardware delay offset for the time transfer between the reference points of two remote time scales. This last technique is called a 'link' calibration, with respect to the other one, which is a 'receiver' calibration. The two techniques require different measurements on site, which change the uncertainty budgets, and we discuss this and related issues. We report on one calibration campaign organized during Autumn 2013 between Observatoire de Paris (OP), Paris, France, Observatoire de la Côte d'Azur (OCA), Calern, France, and NERC Space Geodesy Facility (SGF), Herstmonceux, United Kingdom. The travelling equipment comprised two GPS receivers of different types, along with the required signal generator and distribution amplifier, and one time interval counter. We show the different ways to compute uncertainty budgets, leading to improvement factors of 1.2 to 1.5 on the hardware delay uncertainties when comparing the relative link calibration to the relative receiver calibration. © 2014 BIPM & IOP Publishing Ltd. Source


Willis D.M.,Rutherford Appleton Laboratory | Willis D.M.,University of Warwick | Wild M.N.,Rutherford Appleton Laboratory | Appleby G.M.,NERC Space Geodesy Facility | Macdonald L.T.,University of Leeds
Solar Physics | Year: 2016

Potential sources of inhomogeneity in the sunspot measurements published by the Royal Observatory, Greenwich, during the early interval 1874 – 1885 are examined critically. Particular attention is paid to inhomogeneities that might arise because the sunspot measurements were derived from solar photographs taken at various contributing solar observatories, which used different telescopes, experienced different seeing conditions, and employed different photographic processes. The procedures employed in the Solar Department at the Royal Greenwich Observatory (RGO), Herstmonceux, during the final phase of sunspot observations provide a modern benchmark for interpreting the early sunspot measurements. The different observing telescopes used at the contributing solar observatories during the interval 1874 – 1885 are discussed in detail, using information gleaned from the official RGO publications and other relevant historical documents. Likewise, the different photographic processes employed at the different solar observatories are reviewed carefully. The procedures used by RGO staff to measure the positions and areas of sunspot groups on photographs of the Sun having a nominal radius of either four or eight inches are described. It is argued that the learning curve for the use of the Kew photoheliograph at the Royal Observatory, Greenwich, actually commenced in 1858, not 1874. The RGO daily number of sunspot groups is plotted graphically and analysed statistically. Similarly, the changes of metadata at each solar observatory are shown on the graphical plots and analysed statistically. It is concluded that neither the interleaving of data from the different solar observatories nor the changes in metadata invalidates the RGO count of the number of sunspot groups, which behaves as a quasi-homogeneous time series. Furthermore, it is emphasised that the correct treatment of days without photographs is quite crucial to the correct calculation of Group Sunspot Numbers. © 2016 The Author(s) Source


Appleby G.,NERC Space Geodesy Facility | Rodriguez J.,NERC Space Geodesy Facility | Altamimi Z.,CNRS Pascal Institute
Journal of Geodesy | Year: 2016

Satellite laser ranging (SLR) to the geodetic satellites LAGEOS and LAGEOS-2 uniquely determines the origin of the terrestrial reference frame and, jointly with very long baseline interferometry, its scale. Given such a fundamental role in satellite geodesy, it is crucial that any systematic errors in either technique are at an absolute minimum as efforts continue to realise the reference frame at millimetre levels of accuracy to meet the present and future science requirements. Here, we examine the intrinsic accuracy of SLR measurements made by tracking stations of the International Laser Ranging Service using normal point observations of the two LAGEOS satellites in the period 1993 to 2014. The approach we investigate in this paper is to compute weekly reference frame solutions solving for satellite initial state vectors, station coordinates and daily Earth orientation parameters, estimating along with these weekly average range errors for each and every one of the observing stations. Potential issues in any of the large number of SLR stations assumed to have been free of error in previous realisations of the ITRF may have been absorbed in the reference frame, primarily in station height. Likewise, systematic range errors estimated against a fixed frame that may itself suffer from accuracy issues will absorb network-wide problems into station-specific results. Our results suggest that in the past two decades, the scale of the ITRF derived from the SLR technique has been close to 0.7 ppb too small, due to systematic errors either or both in the range measurements and their treatment. We discuss these results in the context of preparations for ITRF2014 and additionally consider the impact of this work on the currently adopted value of the geocentric gravitational constant, GM. © 2016 Springer-Verlag Berlin Heidelberg Source


Otsubo T.,Hitotsubashi University | Sherwood R.A.,NERC Space Geodesy Facility | Appleby G.M.,NERC Space Geodesy Facility | Neubert R.,Helmholtz Center Potsdam
Journal of Geodesy | Year: 2015

To realize the full potential of satellite laser ranging for accurate geodesy, it is crucial that all systematic effects in the measurements are taken into account. This paper derives new values for the so-called center-of-mass corrections for three geodetic satellites that are regularly tracked and used in geodetic studies. Optical responses of the twin satellites, Starlette and Stella, and the LARES satellite are retrieved from kHz single-photon laser-ranging data observed at Herstmonceux and Potsdam. The detection timing inside single-photon systems, C-SPAD-based systems and photomultiplier-based systems is numerically simulated, and the center-of-mass corrections are derived to be in the range of 74 to 82 mm for Starlette and Stella, and 127–135 mm for LARES. The system dependence is below 1 cm, but should not be ignored for millimeter accuracy. The longtime standard center-of-mass correction 75 mm of Starlette and Stella is revealed to be too small for the current laser-ranging stations on average, which is considered to have resulted in a non-negligible systematic error in geodetic products. © 2014, Springer-Verlag Berlin Heidelberg. Source


Wilkinson M.,NERC Space Geodesy Facility | Appleby G.,NERC Space Geodesy Facility
Advances in Space Research | Year: 2011

The navigation and geodetic satellites that orbit the Earth at altitudes of approximately 20,000 km are tracked routinely by many of the Satellite Laser Ranging (SLR) stations of the International Laser Ranging Service (ILRS). In order to meet increasing demands on SLR stations for daytime and nighttime observations, any new mission needs to ensure a strong return signal so that the target is easily acquirable. The ILRS has therefore set a minimum effective cross-section of 100 million square metres for the on-board laser retro-reflector arrays (LRAs) and further recommends the use of 'uncoated' cubes in the arrays. Given the large number of GNSS satellites that are currently supported by SLR, it is informative to make an assessment of the relative efficiencies of the various LRAs employed. This paper uses the laser ranging observations themselves to deduce and then compare the efficiencies of the LRAs on the COMPASS-M1 navigation satellite, two satellites from the GPS and three from the GLONASS constellations, the two GIOVE test satellites from the upcoming Galileo constellation, the two Etalon geodetic spheres and the geosynchronous communications test satellite, ETS-8. All the LRAs on this set of satellites employ back-coated retro-reflector cubes, except those on the COMPASS-M1 and ETS-8 vehicles which are uncoated. A measure of return signal strength, and thus of LRA-efficiency, is calculated using the laser-range full-rate data archive from 2007 to 2010, scaled to remove the effects of variations in satellite range, atmospheric attenuation and retro-reflector target total surface area. Observations from five SLR stations are used in this study; they are Herstmonceux (UK), Yarragadee (Australia), Monument Peak and McDonald (USA) and Wettzell (Germany). Careful consideration is given to the treatment of the observations from each station in order to take account of local working practices and system upgrades. The results show that the uncoated retro-reflector cubes offer significant improvements in efficiency. © 2011 COSPAR. Published by Elsevier Ltd. All rights reserved. Source

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