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Remote Sens. 2018, 10(1), 80; doi:10.3390/rs10010080

Investigation on Reference Frames and Time Systems in Multi-GNSS

Department of Geosciences, University of Padova, 35131 Padova, Italy
Author to whom correspondence should be addressed.
Received: 24 November 2017 / Revised: 18 December 2017 / Accepted: 3 January 2018 / Published: 9 January 2018


Receivers able to track satellites belonging to different GNSSs (Global Navigation Satellite Systems) are available on the market. To compute coordinates and velocities it is necessary to identify all the elements that contribute to interoperability of the different GNSSs. For example the timescales kept by different GNSSs have to be aligned. Receiver-specific biases, or firmware-dependent biases, need to be calibrated. The reference frame used in the representation of the orbits must be unique. In this paper we address the interoperability issues from the standpoint of a Single Point Positioning (SPP) user, i.e., using pseudoranges and broadcast ephemeris. The biases between GNSSs timescales and receiver-dependent biases are analyzed for a set of 31 MGEX (Multi-GNSS Experiment) stations over a time span of more than three years. Time series of biases between timescales of GPS (Global Positioning System), GLONASS (Global Navigation Satellite System), Galileo, BeiDou, QZSS (Quasi-Zenith Satellite System), SBAS (Satellite Based Augmentation System) and NAVIC (Navigation with Indian Constellation) are investigated, in addition to the identification of events like discontinuity of receiver-dependent biases due to firmware updating. The GPS broadcast reference frame is shown to be aligned to the one (IGS14) realized by the precise ephemeris of CODE (Center for Orbit Determination in Europe) to within 0.1 m and 2 milliarcsec, with values dependent on whether IIR-A, IIR-B/M or IIF satellite blocks are considered. Larger offsets are observed for GLONASS, up to 1 m for GLONASS K satellites. For Galileo the alignment of the broadcast orbit to IGS14/CODE is again at the 0.1 m and several milliarcsec level, with the FOC (Full Operational Capability) satellites slightly better than IOV (In Orbit Validation). For BeiDou an alignment of the broadcast frame to IGS14/CODE comparable to GLONASS is observed, regardless of whether IGSO (Inclined Geosynchronous Orbit) or MEO (Medium Earth Orbit) satellites are considered. For all satellites, position differences according to the broadcast ephemeris relative to IGS14/CODE orbits are projected to the radial, along-track and crosstrack triad, with the largest periodic differences affecting mostly the along track component. Sudden discontinuities at the level of up to 1 m and 2–3 ns are observed for the along-track component and the satellite clock, respectively. The time scales of GLONASS, Galileo, QZSS, SBAS and NAVIC are very closely aligned to GPS, with constant offsets depending on receiver type. The offset of the BeiDou time scale to GPS has an oscillatory pattern with peak-to-peak values up to 100 ns. To characterize receiver-dependent biases the average of six Septentrio receivers is taken as reference, and relative offsets of the other receiver types are investigated. These receiver-dependent biases may depend on the individual station, or for the same station on the update of the firmware. A detailed calibration history is presented for each multiGNSS station studied. View Full-Text
Keywords: MGEX; multi-GNSS interoperability; Single Point Positioning; system time offsets; receiver dependent biases; temporal reference frames; spatial reference frames MGEX; multi-GNSS interoperability; Single Point Positioning; system time offsets; receiver dependent biases; temporal reference frames; spatial reference frames

This is an open access article distributed under the Creative Commons Attribution License which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited. (CC BY 4.0).

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Nicolini, L.; Caporali, A. Investigation on Reference Frames and Time Systems in Multi-GNSS. Remote Sens. 2018, 10, 80.

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