Special Issue "Multi-Constellation Global Navigation Satellite Systems: Methods and Applications"

A special issue of Remote Sensing (ISSN 2072-4292).

Deadline for manuscript submissions: closed (20 January 2018).

Special Issue Editors

Prof. Dr. Jianghui Geng
E-Mail Website
Guest Editor
GNSS Research Center, Wuhan University, Wuhan 430079, China
Tel. +86 17762578656
Interests: high-precision GNSS positioning; undifferenced ambiguity resolution; GNSS seismology; earthquake and tsunami early warning
Special Issues and Collections in MDPI journals
Dr. Maorong Ge
E-Mail Website
Guest Editor
German Research Centre for Geosciences (GFZ), Telegrafenberg, Potsdam 14473, Germany
Interests: GNSS positioning and navigation; precise orbit determination; multi-sensor fusion; GNSS remote sensing
Special Issues and Collections in MDPI journals

Special Issue Information

Dear Colleagues,

In the past few decades, high-precision GNSS has been applied to a good number of remote sensing applications, including the atmosphere, oceans or the Earth’s surface. On the one hand, the new development in multi-GNSS, including GPS, GLONASS, BeiDou, Galileo and QZSS, advance the theories and algorithms of GNSS-based PNT (positioning, navigation and timing), both in post-processing and in real-time; on the other hand, a broad scope of GNSS applications for remote sensing of the solid, fluid and atmospheric Earth continue to proliferate. GNSS remote sensing, regarded as an alternative passive remote sensing technology, has been widely explored in various space-borne, airborne and ground-based experiments. Many space agencies, such as NASA, NOAA and ESA, have funded a large number of projects and missions that are based on high-precision GNSS remote sensing techniques. It results in new problems and challenges in data processing, algorithmic advancements, platform and instrument research.

This Special Issue calls for papers on the review and research of state-of-the-art high-precision GNSS methods and their relevant applications in Earth observations. It includes new models and algorithms for multi-constellation and multi-frequency data processing, bias handling and ambiguity resolution, and new methods and relevant challenging issues for retrieving troposphere and ionosphere delays, soil moisture, snow and ice depth, and other geophysical parameters of high temporal and spatial resolutions as well. This Special Issue will also welcome new developments in high-precision GNSS algorithms and applications in other branches such as geodynamics, seismology, tsunamis, etc.

We encourage, but not limit, submissions relevant to:

- Modeling and strategies in high-precision and real-time multi-GNSS data processing,
- Handling of biases of observations from different observation types, frequencies and systems for efficient integrated multi-GNSS processing,
- GNSS and other sensors (accelerometers, INS, etc.) integration for high-rate applications,
- Atmospheric sensing and GNSS meteorology, COSMIC applications
- GNSS for natural hazards prevention,
- GNSS reflectometry for ocean and land applications, soil moisture sensing
- Multi-GNSS benefits for remote sensing,
- GNSS remote sensing missions and the corresponding instrument design, receiver and antenna technique
- Challenging issues and future directions

Papers are welcomed on all of the above aspects, and more.

Prof. Dr. Jianghui Geng
Prof. Dr. Maorong Ge
Guest Editors

Manuscript Submission Information

Manuscripts should be submitted online at www.mdpi.com by registering and logging in to this website. Once you are registered, click here to go to the submission form. Manuscripts can be submitted until the deadline. All papers will be peer-reviewed. Accepted papers will be published continuously in the journal (as soon as accepted) and will be listed together on the special issue website. Research articles, review articles as well as short communications are invited. For planned papers, a title and short abstract (about 100 words) can be sent to the Editorial Office for announcement on this website.

Submitted manuscripts should not have been published previously, nor be under consideration for publication elsewhere (except conference proceedings papers). All manuscripts are thoroughly refereed through a single-blind peer-review process. A guide for authors and other relevant information for submission of manuscripts is available on the Instructions for Authors page. Remote Sensing is an international peer-reviewed open access semimonthly journal published by MDPI.

Please visit the Instructions for Authors page before submitting a manuscript. The Article Processing Charge (APC) for publication in this open access journal is 1800 CHF (Swiss Francs). Submitted papers should be well formatted and use good English. Authors may use MDPI's English editing service prior to publication or during author revisions.

Keywords

  • Multi-GNSS
  • GNSS reflectometry
  • GNSS meteorology
  • Natural hazards and early warning system

Published Papers (46 papers)

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Editorial

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Open AccessEditorial
Editorial for Multi-Constellation Global Navigation Satellite Systems: Methods and Applications
Remote Sens. 2018, 10(12), 2023; https://doi.org/10.3390/rs10122023 - 12 Dec 2018
Abstract
This is a great era of significant changes and innovations in the field of geodesy and navigation with the emerging multi-constellation Global Navigation Satellite Systems (GNSS) [...] Full article

Research

Jump to: Editorial, Other

Open AccessArticle
BeiDou System (BDS) Triple-Frequency Ambiguity Resolution without Code Measurements
Remote Sens. 2018, 10(5), 675; https://doi.org/10.3390/rs10050675 - 26 Apr 2018
Cited by 6
Abstract
Phase and code measurements achieve ambiguity resolution in medium- or long-baseline computation. However, the code multipath effect on Global Navigation Satellite Systems (GNSS) phase and code measurements is a main source of error for ambiguity resolution, in particular the code multipath. The BeiDou [...] Read more.
Phase and code measurements achieve ambiguity resolution in medium- or long-baseline computation. However, the code multipath effect on Global Navigation Satellite Systems (GNSS) phase and code measurements is a main source of error for ambiguity resolution, in particular the code multipath. The BeiDou System (BDS) of China is fully operational in the Asia-Pacific region and provides triple-frequency (B1, B2 and B3) measurements. Although previous research about BDS triple-frequency baseline computation indicated that using triple-frequency measurements improves the performance of ambiguity resolution, the respective methods are still impacted by code multipath since the code measurements are incorporated in the methods. Therefore, it is of interest to further improve the ambiguity resolution of BDS triple-frequency baseline computation by excluding the code multipath. We propose a modified phase-only method that only uses triple-frequency phase measurements to achieve BDS ambiguity resolution and evaluate the performance of the method. Observations from experimental medium and long baselines were collected with Trimble NetR9 receivers. The related ambiguity-resolution performances are computed with the phase-only method and a generalized phase-code method. The results show that the phase-only ambiguity resolution is feasible and generally performs better than the phase-code ambiguity resolution, but the improvement is subject to phase noise and satellite geometry. Full article
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Open AccessArticle
Studying Ionosphere Responses to a Geomagnetic Storm in June 2015 with Multi-Constellation Observations
Remote Sens. 2018, 10(5), 666; https://doi.org/10.3390/rs10050666 - 25 Apr 2018
Cited by 5
Abstract
The Global Navigation Satellite System (GNSS) observations with global coverage and high temporal and spatial resolution, provide abundant and high-quality Earth-ionosphere observations. By calculating the total electron content (TEC), estimations from GNSS observables global and regional ionosphere TEC morphology can be further investigated. [...] Read more.
The Global Navigation Satellite System (GNSS) observations with global coverage and high temporal and spatial resolution, provide abundant and high-quality Earth-ionosphere observations. By calculating the total electron content (TEC), estimations from GNSS observables global and regional ionosphere TEC morphology can be further investigated. For the multiple constellation case, the numbers of ionosphere pierce points (IPP) has increased tremendously, and it is worth studying the features of the GNSS derived TEC under geomagnetic storms to show the benefits of multiple constellation measurements. With the Multi-GNSS Experiment (MGEX) observation data, ionosphere TEC responses to the geomagnetic storm on the 22 June 2015 were well studied. TEC perturbations were discovered, accompanied by ionosphere irregularities concentrating in high and middle latitudes. Through analysis of multi-GNSS observations, the Rate of TEC Index (ROTI) perturbations were proved to be generated by the geomagnetic storm, with simultaneous behaviors at different local times around the world, also indicating ionosphere scintillation. The ionosphere spatial gradient was also discussed with two short baseline MGEX sites; the maximum ionosphere gradient of 247.2 mm/km was found, due to ionosphere irregularity produced by the storm. This research has discussed ionosphere responses to geomagnetic storms with multi-GNSS data provided and has analyzed the availability of multi-GNSS observations to investigate ionosphere irregularity climatology. The proposed work is valuable for further investigation of GNSS performances under geomagnetic storms. Full article
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Open AccessArticle
Plasmaspheric Electron Content Inferred from Residuals between GNSS-Derived and TOPEX/JASON Vertical TEC Data
Remote Sens. 2018, 10(4), 621; https://doi.org/10.3390/rs10040621 - 18 Apr 2018
Cited by 3
Abstract
The plasmasphere, which is located above the ionosphere, is a significant component of Earth’s atmosphere, and the plasmasphere electron content (PEC) distribution is determined by different physical mechanisms to those of the ionosphere electron content (IEC). However, the observation for the PEC is [...] Read more.
The plasmasphere, which is located above the ionosphere, is a significant component of Earth’s atmosphere, and the plasmasphere electron content (PEC) distribution is determined by different physical mechanisms to those of the ionosphere electron content (IEC). However, the observation for the PEC is very limited. In this study, we introduced a methodology (called zero assumption method, which is based on the assumption that PEC can reach zero) to extract the PEC over TOPEX/JASON (T/J) and global navigation satellite system (GNSS) overlapping areas. Results show that the daily systematic bias (T/J vertical TEC > GNSS-derived vertical TEC) for both low (2009) and high (2011) solar activity condition is consistent, and the systematic bias for JASON2 and JASON1 is different. We suggest that systematic biases predominantly arise from the sea state bias (SSB), especially the tracker bias. After removing the systematic bias, we extracted reliable PEC inferred from differences between GNSS-derived vertical TEC and T/J vertical TEC data. Finally, the characteristics of the plasmaspheric component distribution for different local times, latitudes, and seasons were investigated. Full article
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Open AccessArticle
The Consideration of Formal Errors in Spatiotemporal Filtering Using Principal Component Analysis for Regional GNSS Position Time Series
Remote Sens. 2018, 10(4), 534; https://doi.org/10.3390/rs10040534 - 30 Mar 2018
Cited by 5
Abstract
In the daily operation of regional GNSS (Global Navigation Satellite System) networks, the formal errors of all stations’ coordinate components are calculated. However, spatiotemporal filtering based on traditional Principal Component Analysis (PCA) for regional GNSS position time series does not take these formal [...] Read more.
In the daily operation of regional GNSS (Global Navigation Satellite System) networks, the formal errors of all stations’ coordinate components are calculated. However, spatiotemporal filtering based on traditional Principal Component Analysis (PCA) for regional GNSS position time series does not take these formal errors into account. This paper developed a PCA-based approach to extract Common Mode Error (CME) from the position time series of a regional GNSS station network, where formal errors were applied to construct a weight factor. Because coordinate components with larger errors have smaller weight factors in extracting CME, the performance of our proposed approach was anticipated to be better than the traditional PCA approach. The position time series of 25 stations in the Yunnan Province, China, were analyzed using our approach, as well as the traditional PCA approach. The average errors of the residual time series after removing the CMEs with our approach were 1.30 mm, 1.72 mm, and 4.62 mm for North, East and Up components, and the reductions with respect to those of the original time series were 18.23%, 15.42%, and 18.25%, respectively. If CMEs were removed from the traditional PCA approach, the corresponding average errors were 1.34 mm, 1.81 mm, and 4.84 mm, with reductions of 15.84%, 10.86%, and 14.32%, respectively. Compared to the traditional PCA approach, the average errors of our approach were reduced by about 2.39%, 4.56%, and 3.93% in the North, East and Up components, respectively. Analysis of CME indicated that it mainly contained white and flicker noise. In the synthetic position time series with 500 repeated simulations, the CME extracted by our approach was closer to the true simulated values than those extracted by the traditional PCA approach, regardless of whether local effects were considered or not. Specifically, the mean root mean square (RMS) reduction of our approach, relative to PCA, ranged from 1.35% to 3.93%. Our simulations illustrated that the RMS reductions depended not only on the magnitude, but also the variation of the formal error series, which further highlights the necessity of considering formal errors in spatiotemporal filtering. Full article
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Open AccessArticle
Focal Mechanisms of the 2016 Central Italy Earthquake Sequence Inferred from High-Rate GPS and Broadband Seismic Waveforms
Remote Sens. 2018, 10(4), 512; https://doi.org/10.3390/rs10040512 - 25 Mar 2018
Cited by 7
Abstract
Numerous shallow earthquakes, including a multitude of small shocks and three moderate mainshocks, i.e., the Amatrice earthquake on 24 August, the Visso earthquake on 26 October and the Norcia earthquake on 30 October, occurred throughout central Italy in late 2016 and resulted in [...] Read more.
Numerous shallow earthquakes, including a multitude of small shocks and three moderate mainshocks, i.e., the Amatrice earthquake on 24 August, the Visso earthquake on 26 October and the Norcia earthquake on 30 October, occurred throughout central Italy in late 2016 and resulted in many casualties and property losses. The three mainshocks were successfully recorded by high-rate Global Positioning System (GPS) receivers located near the epicenters, while the broadband seismograms in this area were mostly clipped due to the strong shaking. We retrieved the dynamic displacements from these high-rate GPS records using kinematic precise point positioning analysis. The focal mechanisms of the three mainshocks were estimated both individually and jointly using high-rate GPS waveforms in a very small epicentral distance range (<100 km) and unclipped regional broadband waveforms (100~600 km). The results show that the moment magnitudes of the Amatrice, Visso, and Norcia events are Mw 6.1, Mw 5.9, and Mw 6.5, respectively. Their focal mechanisms are dominated by normal faulting, which is consistent with the local tectonic environment. The moment tensor solution for the Norcia earthquake demonstrates a significant non-double-couple component, which suggests that the faulting interface is complicated. Sparse network tests were conducted to retrieve stable focal mechanisms using a limited number of GPS records. Our results confirm that high-rate GPS waveforms can act as a complement to clipped near-field long-period seismic waveform signals caused by the strong motion and can effectively constrain the focal mechanisms of moderate- to large-magnitude earthquakes. Thus, high-rate GPS observations extremely close to the epicenter can be utilized to rapidly obtain focal mechanisms, which is critical for earthquake emergency response operations. Full article
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Open AccessArticle
A New Strategy for Extracting ENSO Related Signals in the Troposphere and Lower Stratosphere from GNSS RO Specific Humidity Observations
Remote Sens. 2018, 10(4), 503; https://doi.org/10.3390/rs10040503 - 22 Mar 2018
Abstract
El Niño-Southern Oscillation related signals (ENSORS) in the troposphere and lower stratosphere (TLS) are the prominent source of inter-annual variability in the weather and climate system of the Earth, and are especially important for monitoring El Niño-Southern Oscillation (ENSO). In order to reduce [...] Read more.
El Niño-Southern Oscillation related signals (ENSORS) in the troposphere and lower stratosphere (TLS) are the prominent source of inter-annual variability in the weather and climate system of the Earth, and are especially important for monitoring El Niño-Southern Oscillation (ENSO). In order to reduce the influence of quasi-biennial oscillations and other unknown signals compared with the traditional empirical orthogonal functions (EOF) method, a new processing strategy involving fusion of a low-pass filter with an optimal filtering frequency (hereafter called the optimal low-pass filter) and EOF is proposed in this paper for the extraction of ENSORS in the TLS. Using this strategy, ENSORS in the TLS over different areas were extracted effectively from the specific humidity profiles provided by the Global Navigation Satellite System (GNSS) radio occultation (RO) of the Constellation Observing System for Meteorology, Ionosphere, and Climate (COSMIC) mission from June 2006 to June 2014. The spatial and temporal responses of the extracted ENSORS to ENSO at different altitudes in the TLS were analyzed. The results show that the most suitable areas for extracting ENSORS are over the areas of G25 (−25°S–25°N, 180°W–180°E) −G65(−65°S–65°N, 180°W–180°E) in the upper troposphere (250–200 hpa) which show a lag time of 3 months relative to the Oceanic Niño index (ONI). In the troposphere, ENSO manifests as a major inter-annual variation. The ENSORS extracted from the N3.4 (−5°S to 5°N, 120°W to 170°W) area are responsible for 83.59% of the variability of the total specific humidity anomaly (TSHA) at an altitude of 250 hpa. Over all other defined areas which contain the N3.4 areas, ENSORS also explain the major variability in TSHA. In the lower stratosphere, the extracted ENSORS present an unstable pattern at different altitudes because of the weak ENSO effect. Moreover, the spatial and temporal responses of ENSORS and ONI to ENSO across the globe are in good agreement. Over the areas with strong correlation between ENSORS and ONI, the larger the correlation coefficient is, the shorter the lag time between them. Furthermore, the ENSORS from zonal-mean specific humidity monthly anomalies at different altitudes can clearly present the vertical structure of ENSO in the troposphere. This study provides a new approach for monitoring ENSO events. Full article
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Open AccessArticle
Sea Level Estimation Based on GNSS Dual-Frequency Carrier Phase Linear Combinations and SNR
Remote Sens. 2018, 10(3), 470; https://doi.org/10.3390/rs10030470 - 16 Mar 2018
Cited by 2
Abstract
Ground-based GNSS-R (global navigation satellite system reflectometry) can provide the absolute vertical distance from a GNSS antenna to the reflective surface of the ocean in a common height reference frame, given that vertical crustal motion at a GNSS station can be determined using [...] Read more.
Ground-based GNSS-R (global navigation satellite system reflectometry) can provide the absolute vertical distance from a GNSS antenna to the reflective surface of the ocean in a common height reference frame, given that vertical crustal motion at a GNSS station can be determined using direct GNSS signals. This technique offers the advantage of enabling ground-based sea level measurements to be more accurately determined compared with traditional tide gauges. Sea level changes can be retrieved from multipath effects on GNSS, which is caused by interference of the GNSS L-band microwave signals (directly from satellites) with reflections from the environment that occur before reaching the antenna. Most of the GNSS observation types, such as pseudo-range, carrier-phase and signal-to-noise ratio (SNR), suffer from this multipath effect. In this paper, sea level altimetry determinations are presented for the first time based on geometry-free linear combinations of the carrier phase at low elevation angles from a fixed global positioning system (GPS) station. The precision of the altimetry solutions are similar to those derived from GNSS SNR data. There are different types of observation and reflector height retrieval methods used in the data processing, and to analyze the performance of the different methods, five sea level determination strategies are adopted. The solutions from the five strategies are compared with tide gauge measurements near the GPS station, and the results show that sea level changes determined from GPS SNR and carrier phase combinations for the five strategies show good agreement (correlation coefficient of 0.97–0.98 and root-mean-square error values of <0.2 m). Full article
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Open AccessArticle
Calibration of GLONASS Inter-Frequency Code Bias for PPP Ambiguity Resolution with Heterogeneous Rover Receivers
Remote Sens. 2018, 10(3), 399; https://doi.org/10.3390/rs10030399 - 05 Mar 2018
Cited by 2
Abstract
Integer ambiguity resolution (IAR) is important for rapid initialization of precise point positioning (PPP). Whereas many studies have been limited to Global Positioning System (GPS) alone, there is a strong need to add Globalnaya Navigatsionnaya Sputnikovaya Sistema (GLONASS) to the PPP-IAR solution. However, [...] Read more.
Integer ambiguity resolution (IAR) is important for rapid initialization of precise point positioning (PPP). Whereas many studies have been limited to Global Positioning System (GPS) alone, there is a strong need to add Globalnaya Navigatsionnaya Sputnikovaya Sistema (GLONASS) to the PPP-IAR solution. However, the frequency-division multiplexing of GLONASS signals causes inter-frequency code bias (IFCB) in the receiving equipment. The IFCB causes GLONASS wide-lane uncalibrated phase delay (UPD) estimation with heterogeneous receiver types to fail, so GLONASS ambiguity is therefore traditionally estimated as float values in PPP. A two-step method of calibrating GLONASS IFCB is proposed in this paper, such that GLONASS PPP-IAR can be performed with heterogeneous receivers. Experimental results demonstrate that with the proposed method, GLONASS PPP ambiguity resolution can be achieved across a variety of receiver types. For kinematic PPP with mixed receiver types, the fixing percentage within 10 min is only 33.5% for GPS-only. Upon adding GLONASS, the percentage improves substantially, to 84.9%. Full article
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Open AccessArticle
Precise Orbit Determination of FY-3C with Calibration of Orbit Biases in BeiDou GEO Satellites
Remote Sens. 2018, 10(3), 382; https://doi.org/10.3390/rs10030382 - 01 Mar 2018
Cited by 3
Abstract
The emerging BeiDou navigation satellite system has contributed to global precise positioning and has recently moved toward space-borne applications. However, the contribution of BeiDou on LEO orbit determination applications is limited by the poor precision of the GEO satellite orbit and clock products. [...] Read more.
The emerging BeiDou navigation satellite system has contributed to global precise positioning and has recently moved toward space-borne applications. However, the contribution of BeiDou on LEO orbit determination applications is limited by the poor precision of the GEO satellite orbit and clock products. Current researches suggest that BeiDou GEO satellites should not be included in LEO precise orbit determination. Based on analyzing the characteristics of errors existing in BeiDou GEO orbit products, we propose a feasible method to mitigate the offsets in BeiDou GEO orbit errors by in-flight calibration of the systematic daily constant biases in the along-track and cross-track of BeiDou GEO satellites. The proposed method is investigated and validated using one entire month of onboard BDS data from the Chinese FY-3C satellite. The average daily RMS compared with the GPS-derived orbit indicates that our method achieves 6.2 cm three-dimensional precision. When compared to the solutions that disregard the GEO orbit errors scheme and roughly exclude the GEO scheme, the FY-3C orbit precision has been improved by 89.1% and 20.2%, respectively. The average daily RMS values of phase residuals are about one centimeter for solutions that exclude GEO and that estimate systematic biases in GEO orbits. The calibrated orbits of GEO with the decimeter level in along-track and cross-track can be reconstructed by correcting the orbit biases estimated in the FY-3C precise orbit determination. Statistics of the FY-3C orbit quality, observation residuals, and precision of the recovered GEO orbits demonstrate that calibration of daily orbit biases in GEO can improve the precision of LEO orbit determination and enhance the reliability of the solution. Full article
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Open AccessArticle
Optimal, Recursive and Sub-Optimal Linear Solutions to Attitude Determination from Vector Observations for GNSS/Accelerometer/Magnetometer Orientation Measurement
Remote Sens. 2018, 10(3), 377; https://doi.org/10.3390/rs10030377 - 01 Mar 2018
Cited by 9
Abstract
The integration of the Accelerometer and Magnetometer (AM) provides continuous, stable and accurate attitude information for land-vehicle navigation without magnetic distortion and external acceleration. However, magnetic disturbance and linear acceleration strongly degrade the overall system performance. As an important complement, the Global Navigation [...] Read more.
The integration of the Accelerometer and Magnetometer (AM) provides continuous, stable and accurate attitude information for land-vehicle navigation without magnetic distortion and external acceleration. However, magnetic disturbance and linear acceleration strongly degrade the overall system performance. As an important complement, the Global Navigation Satellite System (GNSS) produces the heading estimates, thus it can potentially benefit the AM system. Such a GNSS/AM system for attitude estimation is mathematically converted to a multi-observation vector pairs matching problem in this paper. The optimal and sub-optimal attitude determination and their time-varying recursive variants are all comprehensively investigated and discussed. The developed methods are named as the Optimal Linear Estimator of Quaternion (OLEQ), Suboptimal-OLEQ (SOLEQ) and Recursive-OLEQ (ROLEQ) for different application scenarios. The theory is established based on our previous contributions, and the multi-vector matrix multiplications are decomposed with the eigenvalue factorization. Some analytical results are proven and given, which provides the reader with a brand new viewpoint of the attitude determination and its evolution. With the derivations of the two-vector case, the n-vector case is then naturally formed. Simulations are carried out showing the advantages of the accuracy, robustness and time consumption of the proposed OLEQs, compared with representative methods. The algorithms are then implemented using the C++ programming language on the designed hardware with a GNSS module, three-axis accelerometer and three-axis magnetometer, giving an effective validation of them in real-world applications. The designed schemes have proven their fast speed and good accuracy in these verification scenarios. Full article
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Open AccessArticle
Vertical Deformation Monitoring of the Suspension Bridge Tower Using GNSS: A Case Study of the Forth Road Bridge in the UK
Remote Sens. 2018, 10(3), 364; https://doi.org/10.3390/rs10030364 - 26 Feb 2018
Cited by 7
Abstract
The vertical deformation monitoring of a suspension bridge tower is of paramount importance to maintain the operational safety since nearly all forces are eventually transferred as the vertical stress on the tower. This paper analyses the components affecting the vertical deformation and attempts [...] Read more.
The vertical deformation monitoring of a suspension bridge tower is of paramount importance to maintain the operational safety since nearly all forces are eventually transferred as the vertical stress on the tower. This paper analyses the components affecting the vertical deformation and attempts to reveal its deformation mechanism. Firstly, we designed a strategy for high-precision GNSS data processing aiming at facilitating deformation extraction and analysis. Then, 33 months of vertical deformation time series of the southern tower of the Forth Road Bridge (FRB) in the UK were processed, and the accurate subsidence and the parameters of seasonal signals were estimated based on a classic function model that has been widely studied to analyse GNSS coordinate time series. We found that the subsidence rate is about 4.7 mm/year, with 0.1 mm uncertainty. Meanwhile, a 15-month meteorological dataset was utilised with a thermal expansion model (TEM) to explain the effects of seasonal signals on tower deformation. The amplitude of the annual signals correlated quite well that obtained by the TEM, with the consistency reaching 98.9%, demonstrating that the thermal effect contributes significantly to the annual signals. The amplitude of daily signals displays poor consistency with the ambient temperature data. However, the phase variation tendencies between the daily signals of the vertical deformation and the ambient temperature are highly consistent after February 2016. Finally, the potential contribution of the North Atlantic Drift (NAD) to the characteristics of annual and daily signals is discussed because of the special geographical location of the FRB. Meanwhile, this paper emphasizes the importance of collecting more detailed meteorological and other loading data for the investigation of the vertical deformation mechanism of the bridge towers over time with the support of GNSS. Full article
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Open AccessArticle
A Study of Rank Defect and Network Effect in Processing the CMONOC Network on Bernese
Remote Sens. 2018, 10(3), 357; https://doi.org/10.3390/rs10030357 - 25 Feb 2018
Cited by 1
Abstract
High-precision GPS data processing on Bernese has been employed to routinely resolve daily position solutions of GPS stations in the Crustal Movement Observation Network of China (CMONOC). The rank-deficient problems of the normal equation (NEQ) system and the network effect on the frame [...] Read more.
High-precision GPS data processing on Bernese has been employed to routinely resolve daily position solutions of GPS stations in the Crustal Movement Observation Network of China (CMONOC). The rank-deficient problems of the normal equation (NEQ) system and the network effect on the frame alignment of NEQs in the processing of CMONOC data on Bernese still present difficulties. In this study, we diagnose the rank-deficient problems of the original NEQ, review the efficiency of the controlled datum removal (CDR) method in filtering out the three frame-origin-related datum contents, investigate the reliabilities of the inherited frame orientation and scale information from the fixation of the GPS satellite orbits and the Earth rotation parameters in establishing the NEQ of the CMONOC network on Bernese, and analyze the impact of the network effect on the position time series of GPS stations. Our results confirm the nonsingularity of the original NEQ and the efficiency of the CDR filtering in resolving the rank-deficient problems; show that the frame origin parameters are weakly defined and should be stripped off, while the frame orientation and scale parameters should be retained due to their insufficient redefinition from the minimal constraint (MC) implementation through inhomogeneous and asymmetrical fiducial networks; and reveal the superiority of a globally distributed fiducial network for frame alignment of the reconstructed NEQs via No-Net-Translation (NNT) MC conditions. Finally, we attribute the two apparent discontinuities in the position time series to the terrestrial reference frame (TRF) conversions of the GPS satellite orbits, and identify it as the orbit TRF effect. Full article
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Open AccessArticle
Triple-Frequency Code-Phase Combination Determination: A Comparison with the Hatch-Melbourne-Wübbena Combination Using BDS Signals
Remote Sens. 2018, 10(2), 353; https://doi.org/10.3390/rs10020353 - 24 Feb 2018
Cited by 4
Abstract
Considering the influence of the ionosphere, troposphere, and other systematic errors on double-differenced ambiguity resolution (AR), we present an optimal triple-frequency code-phase combination determination method driven by both the model and the real data. The new method makes full use of triple-frequency code [...] Read more.
Considering the influence of the ionosphere, troposphere, and other systematic errors on double-differenced ambiguity resolution (AR), we present an optimal triple-frequency code-phase combination determination method driven by both the model and the real data. The new method makes full use of triple-frequency code measurements (especially the low-noise of the code on the B3 signal) to minimize the total noise level and achieve the largest AR success rate (model-driven) under different ionosphere residual situations (data-driven), thus speeding up the AR by directly rounding. With the triple-frequency Beidou Navigation Satellite System (BDS) data collected at five stations from a continuously-operating reference station network in Guangdong Province of China, different testing scenarios are defined (a medium baseline, whose distance is between 20 km and 50 km; a medium-long baseline, whose distance is between 50 km and 100 km; and a long baseline, whose distance is larger than 100 km). The efficiency of the optimal code-phase combination on the AR success rate was compared with that of the geometry-free and ionosphere-free (GIF) combination and the Hatch-Melbourne-Wübbena (HMW) combination. Results show that the optimal combinations can always achieve better results than the HMW combination with B2 and B3 signals, especially when the satellite elevation angle is larger than 45°. For the wide-lane AR which aims to obtain decimeter-level kinematic positioning service, the standard deviation (STD) of ambiguity residuals for the suboptimal combination are only about 0.2 cycles, and the AR success rate by directly rounding can be up to 99%. Compared with the HMW combinations using B1 and B2 signals and using B1 and B3 signals, the suboptimal combination achieves the best results in all baselines, with an overall improvement of about 40% and 20%, respectively. Additionally, the STD difference between the optimal and the GIF code-phase combinations decreases as the baseline length increases. This indicates that the GIF combination is more suitable for long baselines. The proposed optimal code-phase combination determination method can be applied to other multi-frequency global navigation satellite systems, such as new-generation BDS, Galileo, and modernized GPS. Full article
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Open AccessArticle
Combining GPS, BeiDou, and Galileo Satellite Systems for Time and Frequency Transfer Based on Carrier Phase Observations
Remote Sens. 2018, 10(2), 324; https://doi.org/10.3390/rs10020324 - 22 Feb 2018
Cited by 11
Abstract
The carrier-phase (CP) technique based on the Global Navigation Satellite System (GNSS) has proved to be a useful spatial tool for remote and precise time transfer. In order to improve the robustness and stability of the time transfer solution for a time link, [...] Read more.
The carrier-phase (CP) technique based on the Global Navigation Satellite System (GNSS) has proved to be a useful spatial tool for remote and precise time transfer. In order to improve the robustness and stability of the time transfer solution for a time link, a new CP approach based on a combination of GPS, BeiDou (BDS), and Galileo satellite systems is proposed in this study. The mathematical model for the obtained unique time transfer solution is discussed. Three GNSS stations that can track GPS, BeiDou, and Galileo satellites were used, and two time links are established to assess the performance of the approach. Multi-GNSS time transfer outperforms single GNSS by increasing the number of available satellites and improving the time dilution of precision. For the long time link, with a geodetic distance of 7537.5 km, the RMS value of the combined multi-system solution improves by 18.8%, 59.4%, and 35.0% compared to GPS-only, BDS-only, and Galileo-only, respectively. The average frequency stability improves by 12.9%, 62.3%, and 36.0%, respectively. For the short time link, with a geodetic distance of 4.7 m, the improvement after combining the three GNSSs is 6.7% for GPS-only, 52.6% for BDS-only, and 38.2% for Galileo-only. Full article
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Open AccessArticle
Vertical Displacements Driven by Groundwater Storage Changes in the North China Plain Detected by GPS Observations
Remote Sens. 2018, 10(2), 259; https://doi.org/10.3390/rs10020259 - 07 Feb 2018
Cited by 5
Abstract
The North China Plain (NCP) has been experiencing the most severe groundwater depletion in China, leading to a broad region of vertical motions of the Earth’s surface. This paper explores the seasonal and linear trend variations of surface vertical displacements caused by the [...] Read more.
The North China Plain (NCP) has been experiencing the most severe groundwater depletion in China, leading to a broad region of vertical motions of the Earth’s surface. This paper explores the seasonal and linear trend variations of surface vertical displacements caused by the groundwater changes in NCP from 2009 to 2013 using Global Positioning System (GPS) and Gravity Recovery and Climate Experiment (GRACE) techniques. Results show that the peak-to-peak amplitude of GPS-derived annual variation is about 3.7~6.0 mm and is highly correlated (R > 0.6 for most selected GPS stations) with results from GRACE, which would confirm that the vertical displacements of continuous GPS (CGPS) stations are mainly caused by groundwater storage (GWS) changes in NCP, since GWS is the dominant component of total water storage (TWS) anomalies in this area. The linear trends of selected bedrock-located IGS CGPS stations reveal the distinct GWS changes in period of 2009–2010 (decrease) and 2011–2013 (rebound), which are consistent with results from GRACE-derived GWS anomalies and in situ GWS observations. This result implies that the rate of groundwater depletion in NCP has slowed in recent years. The impacts of geological condition (bedrock or sediment) of CGPS stations to their results are also investigated in this study. Contrasted with the slight linear rates (−0.69~1.5 mm/a) of bedrock-located CGPS stations, the linear rates of sediment-located CGPS stations are between −44 mm/a and −17 mm/a. It is due to the opposite vertical displacements induced by the Earth surface’s porous and elastic response to groundwater depletion. Besides, the distinct renewal characteristics of shallow and deep groundwater in NCP are discussed. The GPS-based vertical displacement time series, to some extent, can reflect the quicker recovery of shallow unconfined groundwater than the deep confined groundwater in NCP; through one month earlier to attain the maximum height for CGPS stations nearby shallow groundwater depression cones than those nearby deep groundwater depression cones. Full article
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Open AccessArticle
An Optimal Tropospheric Tomography Method Based on the Multi-GNSS Observations
Remote Sens. 2018, 10(2), 234; https://doi.org/10.3390/rs10020234 - 03 Feb 2018
Cited by 2
Abstract
Aside from the well-known applications (positioning, navigation and timing) brought by Global Navigation Satellite System (GNSS), reconstruction of tropospheric atmosphere distribution information using tomography technique based on the multi-GNSS observations has been developed as a research point in the fields of GNSS Meteorology. [...] Read more.
Aside from the well-known applications (positioning, navigation and timing) brought by Global Navigation Satellite System (GNSS), reconstruction of tropospheric atmosphere distribution information using tomography technique based on the multi-GNSS observations has been developed as a research point in the fields of GNSS Meteorology. In this paper, an optimal tropospheric tomography method using observations from multi-GNSS (Global Navigation Satellite System) is proposed, which considers the reasonable weightings of observation equations derived from multi-GNSS as well as the various constraints. Comparing to the equal weighting strategy of multi-GNSS observations for the previously multi-GNSS tomography studies, the proposed method in this paper has the ability to tune the weightings for a different type of equations. Experiments show that the proposed method can improve the internal/external accuracy of GNSS tomography modeling with the GNSS precise point positioning (PPP)-estimated slant wet delay as reference when compared to the conventional method. In addition, the data derived from radiosonde is used as an external testing, and the result also expresses the superiority of the proposed method when compared to the conventional method. Full article
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Open AccessFeature PaperArticle
New Adaptable All-in-One Strategy for Estimating Advanced Tropospheric Parameters and Using Real-Time Orbits and Clocks
Remote Sens. 2018, 10(2), 232; https://doi.org/10.3390/rs10020232 - 02 Feb 2018
Cited by 8
Abstract
We developed a new strategy for a synchronous generation of real-time (RT) and near real-time (NRT) tropospheric products. It exploits the precise point positioning method with Kalman filtering and backward smoothing, both supported by real-time orbit and clock products. The strategy can be [...] Read more.
We developed a new strategy for a synchronous generation of real-time (RT) and near real-time (NRT) tropospheric products. It exploits the precise point positioning method with Kalman filtering and backward smoothing, both supported by real-time orbit and clock products. The strategy can be optimized for the latency or the accuracy of NRT production. In terms of precision, it is comparable to the traditional NRT network solution using deterministic models in the least-square adjustment. Both RT and NRT solutions provide a consistent set of tropospheric parameters such as zenith total delays, horizontal tropospheric gradients and slant delays, all with a high resolution and optimally exploiting all observations from available GNSS multi-constellations. As the new strategy exploits RT processing, we assessed publicly precise RT products and results of RT troposphere monitoring. The backward smoothing applied for NRT solution, when using an optimal latency of 30 min, reached an improvement of 20% when compared to RT products. Additionally, multi-GNSS solutions provided more accurate (by 25%) tropospheric parameters, and the impact will further increase when constellations are complete and supported with precise models and products. The new strategy is ready to replace our NRT contribution to the EUMETNET EIG GNSS Water Vapour Programme (E-GVAP) and effectively support all modern multi-GNSS tropospheric products. Full article
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Open AccessFeature PaperArticle
On the Applicability of Galileo FOC Satellites with Incorrect Highly Eccentric Orbits: An Evaluation of Instantaneous Medium-Range Positioning
Remote Sens. 2018, 10(2), 208; https://doi.org/10.3390/rs10020208 - 30 Jan 2018
Cited by 12
Abstract
This study addresses the potential contribution of the first pair of Galileo FOC satellites sent into incorrect highly eccentric orbits for geodetic and surveying applications. We began with an analysis of the carrier to noise density ratio and the stochastic properties of GNSS [...] Read more.
This study addresses the potential contribution of the first pair of Galileo FOC satellites sent into incorrect highly eccentric orbits for geodetic and surveying applications. We began with an analysis of the carrier to noise density ratio and the stochastic properties of GNSS measurements. The investigations revealed that the signal power of E14 & E18 satellites is higher than for regular Galileo satellites, what is related to their lower altitude over the experiment area. With regard to the noise of the observables, there are no significant differences between all Galileo satellites. Furthermore, the study confirmed that the precision of Galileo data is higher than that of GPS, especially in the case of code measurements. Next analysis considered selected domains of precise instantaneous medium-range positioning: ambiguity resolution and coordinate accuracy as well as observable residuals. On the basis of test solutions, with and without E14 & E18 data, we found that these satellites did not noticeably influence the ambiguity resolution process. The discrepancy in ambiguity success rate between test solutions did not exceed 2%. The differences between standard deviations of the fixed coordinates did not exceed 1 mm for horizontal components. The standard deviation of the L1/E1 phase residuals, corresponding to regular GPS and Galileo, and E14 & E18 satellite signals, was at a comparable level, in the range of 6.5–8.7 mm. The study revealed that the Galileo satellites with incorrect orbits were fully usable in most geodetic, surveying and many other post-processed applications and may be beneficial especially for positioning during obstructed visibility of satellites. This claim holds true when providing precise ephemeris of satellites. Full article
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Open AccessArticle
High-Accuracy Positioning in Urban Environments Using Single-Frequency Multi-GNSS RTK/MEMS-IMU Integration
Remote Sens. 2018, 10(2), 205; https://doi.org/10.3390/rs10020205 - 30 Jan 2018
Cited by 19
Abstract
The integration of Global Positioning System (GPS) real-time kinematics (RTK) and an inertial navigation system (INS) has been widely used in many applications, such as mobile mapping and autonomous vehicle control. Such applications require high-accuracy position information. However, continuous and reliable high-accuracy positioning [...] Read more.
The integration of Global Positioning System (GPS) real-time kinematics (RTK) and an inertial navigation system (INS) has been widely used in many applications, such as mobile mapping and autonomous vehicle control. Such applications require high-accuracy position information. However, continuous and reliable high-accuracy positioning is still challenging for GPS/INS integration in urban environments because of the limited satellite visibility, increasing multipath, and frequent signal blockages. Recently, with the rapid deployment of multi-constellation Global Navigation Satellite System (multi-GNSS) and the great advances in low-cost micro-electro-mechanical-system (MEMS) inertial measurement units (IMUs), it is expected that the positioning performance could be improved significantly. In this contribution, the tightly-coupled single-frequency multi-GNSS RTK/MEMS-IMU integration is developed to provide precise and continuous positioning solutions in urban environments. The innovation-based outlier-resistant ambiguity resolution (AR) and Kalman filtering strategy are proposed specifically for the integrated system to resist the measurement outliers or poor-quality observations. A field vehicular experiment was conducted in Wuhan City to evaluate the performance of the proposed algorithm. Results indicate that it is feasible for the proposed algorithm to obtain high-accuracy positioning solutions in the presence of measurement outliers. Moreover, the tightly-coupled single-frequency multi-GNSS RTK/MEMS-IMU integration even outperforms the dual-frequency multi-GNSS RTK in terms of AR and positioning performance for short baselines in urban environments. Full article
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Open AccessArticle
The Impacts of the Ionospheric Observable and Mathematical Model on the Global Ionosphere Model
Remote Sens. 2018, 10(2), 169; https://doi.org/10.3390/rs10020169 - 25 Jan 2018
Cited by 3
Abstract
A high-accuracy Global Ionosphere Model (GIM) is significant for precise positioning and navigating with the Global Navigation Satellite System (GNSS), as well as space weather applications. To obtain a precise GIM, it is critical to take both the ionospheric observable and mathematical model [...] Read more.
A high-accuracy Global Ionosphere Model (GIM) is significant for precise positioning and navigating with the Global Navigation Satellite System (GNSS), as well as space weather applications. To obtain a precise GIM, it is critical to take both the ionospheric observable and mathematical model into consideration. In this contribution, the undifferenced ambiguity-fixed carrier-phase ionospheric observable is first determined from a global distribution of permanent receivers. Accuracy assessment with a co-located station experiment shows that the observational errors affecting the ambiguity-fixed carrier-phase ionospheric observables range from 0.10 to 0.35 Total Electron Content Units (TECUs, where 1 TECU = 10 16 e / m 2 and corresponds to 0.162 m on the Global Positioning System, GPS L1 frequency), indicating that the ambiguity-fixed carrier-phase ionospheric observable is over one order of magnitude more accurate than the carrier-phase leveled-code one (from 1.21 to 3.77 TECUs). Second, to better model the structure of the ionosphere, a two-layer GIM has been built based on the above carrier-phase observable. Preliminary global accuracy evaluation demonstrates that the accuracy of the two-layer GIM is below 1 TECU and about 2 TECUs during low and high solar activity periods. Third, the single-frequency point positioning experiment is adopted to test the ionosphere mitigation effects of the GIMs. Positioning results demonstrate that the single-frequency positioning accuracy can be improved by more than 30% using the undifferenced ambiguity-fixed ionospheric observable-derived two-layer GIM, compared with that using the carrier-phase leveled-code ionospheric observable-based single-layer GIM. Full article
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Open AccessArticle
Solar Radiation Pressure Models for BeiDou-3 I2-S Satellite: Comparison and Augmentation
Remote Sens. 2018, 10(1), 118; https://doi.org/10.3390/rs10010118 - 16 Jan 2018
Cited by 7
Abstract
As one of the most essential modeling aspects for precise orbit determination, solar radiation pressure (SRP) is the largest non-gravitational force acting on a navigation satellite. This study focuses on SRP modeling of the BeiDou-3 experimental satellite I2-S (PRN C32), for which an [...] Read more.
As one of the most essential modeling aspects for precise orbit determination, solar radiation pressure (SRP) is the largest non-gravitational force acting on a navigation satellite. This study focuses on SRP modeling of the BeiDou-3 experimental satellite I2-S (PRN C32), for which an obvious modeling deficiency that is related to SRP was formerly identified. The satellite laser ranging (SLR) validation demonstrated that the orbit of BeiDou-3 I2-S determined with empirical 5-parameter Extended CODE (Center for Orbit Determination in Europe) Orbit Model (ECOM1) has the sun elongation angle (ε angle) dependent systematic error, as well as a bias of approximately −16.9 cm. Similar performance has been identified for European Galileo and Japanese QZSS Michibiki satellite as well, and can be reduced with the extended ECOM model (ECOM2), or by using the a priori SRP model to augment ECOM1. In this study, the performances of the widely used SRP models for GNSS (Global Navigation Satellite System) satellites, i.e., ECOM1, ECOM2, and adjustable box-wing model have been compared and analyzed for BeiDou-3 I2-S satellite. In addition, the a priori SRP models are derived based on analytical cuboid box model and empirically spectra analysis, respectively. Use of the a priori model combined with ECOM1 was finally demonstrated to reduce the ε-angle-dependent systematic error, and thus improved the radial orbit accuracy by nearly 35 per cent when compared to the solution with standalone ECOM1, as revealed by the one way SLR residuals. Full article
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Open AccessArticle
Impact of the Initial State on BDS Real-Time Orbit Determination Filter Convergence
Remote Sens. 2018, 10(1), 111; https://doi.org/10.3390/rs10010111 - 15 Jan 2018
Cited by 1
Abstract
High precision real-time orbit of navigation satellites are usually predicted based on batch estimation solutions, which is highly dependent on the accuracy of the dynamic model. However, for the BDS satellites, the accuracy and reliability of the predicted orbit usually decrease due to [...] Read more.
High precision real-time orbit of navigation satellites are usually predicted based on batch estimation solutions, which is highly dependent on the accuracy of the dynamic model. However, for the BDS satellites, the accuracy and reliability of the predicted orbit usually decrease due to the inaccurate dynamic model or orbit maneuvers. To improve this situation, the sequential estimation Square Root Information Filtering (SRIF) was applied to determine the real-time BDS orbits. In the filter algorithm, usually a long period is required for the orbit to converge to the final accuracy, due to lake of accurate initial state. This paper focuses on the impact of the initial state with different a priori Standard Deviation (STD) on the BDS orbit convergence performance in both normal and abnormal periods. For the normal period, the Ultra-Rapid (UR) orbit products and the Broadcast Ephemerides (BRDC) used as initial orbits are discussed respectively. For the abnormal period, orbit maneuver is analyzed. Experimental results show that a proper a priori STD of initial state can significantly accelerate the orbit convergence, while a loose a priori STD takes more than 10 h to converge in the radial direction for the BDS GEO/IGSO/MEO satellites. When the UR orbit product is used as the initial orbit, the orbit of the IGSO/MEO satellites can converge to decimeter-level immediately. When the BRDC product is used, the accuracy of meter-level can be obtained for the IGSO/MEO immediately, and converge to decimeter-level in about 6 h. For the period after the orbit maneuver, the real-time orbit accuracy can reach meter-level in about 6 h after the first group of broadcast ephemerides is received. Full article
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Open AccessArticle
The Impact of Eclipsing GNSS Satellites on the Precise Point Positioning
Remote Sens. 2018, 10(1), 94; https://doi.org/10.3390/rs10010094 - 11 Jan 2018
Cited by 7
Abstract
When satellites enter into the noon maneuver or the shadow crossing regimes, the actual attitudes will depart from their nominal values. If improper attitude models are used, the induced-errors due to the wind-up effect and satellite antenna PCO (Phase Center Offset) will deteriorate [...] Read more.
When satellites enter into the noon maneuver or the shadow crossing regimes, the actual attitudes will depart from their nominal values. If improper attitude models are used, the induced-errors due to the wind-up effect and satellite antenna PCO (Phase Center Offset) will deteriorate the positioning accuracy. Because different generations of satellites adopt different attitude control models, the influences on the positioning performances deserve further study. Consequently, the impact of three eclipsing strategies on the single-system and multi-GNSS (Global Navigation Satellite System) Precise Point Positioning (PPP) are analyzed. According to the results of the eclipsing monitor, 65 globally distributed MGEX (Multi-GNSS EXperiment) stations for 31-day period in July 2017 are selected to perform G/R/E/C/GR/GREC PPP in both static and kinematic modes. The results show that the influences of non-nominal attitudes are related to the magnitude of the PCO values, maximum yaw angle differences, the duration of maneuver, the value of the sun angle and the satellite geometric strength. For single-system, using modeled attitudes rather than the nominal ones will greatly improve the positioning accuracy of GLONASS-only and BDS-only PPP while slightly contributions to the GPS-only and GALILEO-only PPP. Deleting the eclipsing satellites may sometimes induce a longer convergence time and a worse solution due to the poor satellite geometry, especially for GLONASS kinematic PPP when stations are located in the low latitude and BDS kinematic PPP. When multi-GNSS data are available, especially four navigation systems, the accuracy improvements of using the modeled attitudes or deleting eclipsing satellites are non-significant. Full article
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Open AccessArticle
Weighting of Multi-GNSS Observations in Real-Time Precise Point Positioning
Remote Sens. 2018, 10(1), 84; https://doi.org/10.3390/rs10010084 - 10 Jan 2018
Cited by 15
Abstract
The combination of Global Navigation Satellite Systems (GNSS) may improve the accuracy and precision of estimated coordinates, as well as the convergence time of Precise Point Positioning (PPP) solutions. The key conditions are the correct functional model and the proper weighting of observations, [...] Read more.
The combination of Global Navigation Satellite Systems (GNSS) may improve the accuracy and precision of estimated coordinates, as well as the convergence time of Precise Point Positioning (PPP) solutions. The key conditions are the correct functional model and the proper weighting of observations, for which different characteristics of multi-GNSS signals should be taken into account. In post-processing applications, the optimum stochastic model can be obtained through the analysis of post-fit residuals, but for real-time applications the stochastic model has to be defined in advanced. We propose five different weighting schemes for the GPS + GLONASS + Galileo + BeiDou combination, including two schemes with no intra-system differences, and three schemes that are based on signal noise and/or quality of satellite orbits. We perform GPS-only and five multi-GNSS solutions representing each weighting scheme. We analyze formal errors of coordinates, coordinate repeatability, and solution convergence time. We found that improper or equal weighting may improve formal errors but decreases coordinate repeatability when compared to the GPS-only solution. Intra-system weighting based on satellite orbit quality allows for a reduction of formal errors by 40%, for shortening convergence time by 40% and 47% for horizontal and vertical components, respectively, as well as for improving coordinate repeatability by 6%. Full article
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Open AccessArticle
Investigation on Reference Frames and Time Systems in Multi-GNSS
Remote Sens. 2018, 10(1), 80; https://doi.org/10.3390/rs10010080 - 09 Jan 2018
Cited by 7
Abstract
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 [...] Read more.
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. Full article
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Open AccessArticle
Spatiotemporal Evaluation of GNSS-R Based on Future Fully Operational Global Multi-GNSS and Eight-LEO Constellations
Remote Sens. 2018, 10(1), 67; https://doi.org/10.3390/rs10010067 - 05 Jan 2018
Cited by 5
Abstract
Spaceborne GNSS-R (global navigation satellite system reflectometry) is an innovative and powerful bistatic radar remote sensing technique that uses specialized GNSS-R instruments on LEO (low Earth orbit) satellites to receive GNSS L-band signals reflected by the Earth’s surface. Unlike monostatic radar, the illuminated [...] Read more.
Spaceborne GNSS-R (global navigation satellite system reflectometry) is an innovative and powerful bistatic radar remote sensing technique that uses specialized GNSS-R instruments on LEO (low Earth orbit) satellites to receive GNSS L-band signals reflected by the Earth’s surface. Unlike monostatic radar, the illuminated areas are elliptical regions centered on specular reflection points. Evaluation of the spatiotemporal resolution of the reflections is necessary at the GNSS-R mission design stage for various applications. However, not all specular reflection signals can be received because the size and location of the GNSS-R antenna’s available reflecting ground coverage depends on parameters including the on-board receiver antenna gain, the signal frequency and power, the antenna face direction, and the LEO’s altitude. Additionally, the number of available reflections is strongly related to the number of GNSS-R LEO and GNSS satellites. By 2020, the Galileo and BeiDou Navigation Satellite System (BDS) constellations are scheduled to be fully operational at global scale and nearly 120 multi-GNSS satellites, including Global Positioning System (GPS) and Global Navigation Satellite System (GLONASS) satellites, will be available for use as illuminators. In this paper, to evaluate the future capacity for repetitive GNSS-R observations, we propose a GNSS satellite selection method and simulate the orbit of eight-satellite LEO and partial multi-GNSS constellations. We then analyze the spatiotemporal distribution characteristics of the reflections in two cases: (1) When only GPS satellites are available; (2) when multi-GNSS satellites are available separately. Simulation and analysis results show that the multi-GNSS-R system has major advantages in terms of available satellite numbers and revisit times over the GPS-R system. Additionally, the spatial density of the specular reflections on the Earth’s surface is related to the LEO inclination and constellation construction. Full article
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Open AccessArticle
Improved Modeling of Global Ionospheric Total Electron Content Using Prior Information
Remote Sens. 2018, 10(1), 63; https://doi.org/10.3390/rs10010063 - 05 Jan 2018
Cited by 5
Abstract
The Ionosphere Working Group of the International GNSS Service (IGS) has been a reliable source of global ionospheric maps (GIMs) since 1998. Modeling of the global ionospheric total electron content (TEC) is performed daily by several Ionosphere Associate Analysis Centers (IAACs). Four IAACs [...] Read more.
The Ionosphere Working Group of the International GNSS Service (IGS) has been a reliable source of global ionospheric maps (GIMs) since 1998. Modeling of the global ionospheric total electron content (TEC) is performed daily by several Ionosphere Associate Analysis Centers (IAACs). Four IAACs (CODE, ESA, CAS and WHU) use the spherical harmonic (SH) expansion as their primary method for modeling GIMs. The IAACs generally solve a normal equation to obtain the SH coefficients and Differential Code Biases (DCBs) of satellites and receivers by traditional least-squares estimation (LSE) without any prior knowledge. In this contribution, an improved method is proposed and developed for global ionospheric modeling based on utilizing prior knowledge. Prior values of SH coefficients and DCBs of satellites and receivers, as well as the variance factor and covariance matrix, could be obtained from the ionospheric modeling on the previous day. The parameters can subsequently be updated through GNSS measurements to achieve higher accuracy. Comparisons are carried out between WHU products based either on priori information or original LSE and IGS final products, other IAAC products, and JASON data for the year 2014. The results indicate that there is improved consistency between WHU GIMs and IGS final GIMs, other IAAC products, and JASON data, particularly in comparison with ESA and UPC products, with the probabilities of achieving better consistency with these products exceeding 95%. Moreover, WHU-produced DCBs of satellites also have slightly improved consistency with IGS final GIMs and IAAC products. Full article
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Open AccessArticle
3-D Water Vapor Tomography in Wuhan from GPS, BDS and GLONASS Observations
Remote Sens. 2018, 10(1), 62; https://doi.org/10.3390/rs10010062 - 04 Jan 2018
Cited by 10
Abstract
Three-dimensional water vapor can be reconstructed from Global Navigation Satellite System (GNSS) observations, which can study 3-D profile variations of atmospheric water vapor and climate. However, there is a large uncertainty of water vapor tomography from single GPS system observations due to limited [...] Read more.
Three-dimensional water vapor can be reconstructed from Global Navigation Satellite System (GNSS) observations, which can study 3-D profile variations of atmospheric water vapor and climate. However, there is a large uncertainty of water vapor tomography from single GPS system observations due to limited satellites. The rapid development of multi-GNSS, including China’s Beidou Navigation Satellite System (BDS) and Russia’s GLONASS, has greatly improved the geometric distribution of satellite ray-path signals, which may improve the performance of water vapor tomography by combining multi-GNSS. In this paper, 3-D water vapor tomography results are the first time obtained using multi-GNSS data from Continuously Operating Reference Stations (CORS) network in Wuhan, China, whose performances are validated by radiosonde and the latest ECMWF ERA5 reanalysis products. The results show that the integrated multi-GNSS can pronouncedly increase the number of effective signals, and 3-D water vapor results are better than those from the GPS-only system, improving by 5% with GPS + GLONASS or GPS + GLONASS + BDS, while BDS has results that are not improved too much. Therefore, multi-GNSS will enhance the reliability and accuracy of 3-D water vapor tomography, which has more potential applications in the future. Full article
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Open AccessArticle
An Improved Predicted Model for BDS Ultra-Rapid Satellite Clock Offsets
Remote Sens. 2018, 10(1), 60; https://doi.org/10.3390/rs10010060 - 04 Jan 2018
Cited by 14
Abstract
The satellite clocks used in the BeiDou-2 satellite navigation System (BDS) are Chinese self-developed Rb atomic clocks, and their performances and stabilities are worse than GPS and Galileo satellite clocks. Due to special periodic noises and nonlinear system errors existing in the BDS [...] Read more.
The satellite clocks used in the BeiDou-2 satellite navigation System (BDS) are Chinese self-developed Rb atomic clocks, and their performances and stabilities are worse than GPS and Galileo satellite clocks. Due to special periodic noises and nonlinear system errors existing in the BDS clock offset series, the GPS ultra-rapid clock model, which uses a simple quadratic polynomial plus one periodic is not suitable for BDS. Therefore, an improved prediction model for BDS satellite clocks is proposed in order to enhance the precision of ultra-rapid predicted clock offsets. First, a basic quadratic polynomial model which is fit for the rubidium (Rb) clock is constructed for BDS. Second, the main cyclic terms are detected and identified by the Fast Fourier Transform (FFT) method according to every satellite clock offset series. The detected results show that most BDS clocks have special cyclic terms which are different from the orbit periods. Therefore, two main cyclic terms are added to absorb the periodic effects. Third, after the quadratic polynomial plus two periodic fitting, some evident nonlinear system errors also exist in the model residual, and the Back Propagation (BP) neural network model is chosen to compensate for these nonlinear system errors. The simulation results show that the performance and precision using the improved model are better than that of China iGMAS ultra-rapid prediction (ISU-P) products and the Deutsches GeoForschungsZentrum GFZ BDS ultra-rapid prediction (GBU-P) products. Comparing to ISU-P products, the average improvements using the proposed model in 3 h, 6 h, 12 h and 24 h are 23.1%, 21.3%, 20.2%, and 19.8%, respectively. Meanwhile the accuracy improvements of the proposed model are 9.9%, 13.9%, 17.3%, and 21.2% compared to GBU-P products. In addition, the kinematic Precise Point Positioning (PPP) example using 8 Multi-GNSS Experiment MGEX stations shows that the precision based on the proposed clock model has improved about 16%, 14%, and 38% in the North (N), East (E) and Height (H) components. Full article
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Open AccessArticle
An Approach to Improve the Positioning Performance of GPS/INS/UWB Integrated System with Two-Step Filter
Remote Sens. 2018, 10(1), 19; https://doi.org/10.3390/rs10010019 - 23 Dec 2017
Cited by 6
Abstract
The integration of Inertial Navigation System (INS) and Global Positioning System (GPS) single-point-positioning (SPP) mode cannot meet the requirements of high-accuracy navigation. Range observation through ultra-wideband (UWB) is an effective means to enhance the reliability and accuracy of GPS/INS integrated navigation, particularly in [...] Read more.
The integration of Inertial Navigation System (INS) and Global Positioning System (GPS) single-point-positioning (SPP) mode cannot meet the requirements of high-accuracy navigation. Range observation through ultra-wideband (UWB) is an effective means to enhance the reliability and accuracy of GPS/INS integrated navigation, particularly in environments where GPS availability is poor. Because it is difficult for UWB signal to achieve large-scale intervention coverage, an enhanced GPS/INS/UWB integrated scheme with positioning error correction is proposed to improve the position accuracy in the UWB signal outage scenario. The position difference between the GPS/INS integrated solution and the GPS/INS/UWB integrated solution is predicated as the error correction for GPS/INS/UWB integrated navigation in a UWB signal challenging environment. Position correction information in the north and east directions is input to the two-step filter to decrease the error of GPS/INS integrated navigation in single-point-positioning. In order to validate the proposed method, a real experiment is conducted. The results indicate that the enhanced GPS/INS/UWB integrated scheme with positioning error correction is able to improve the position accuracy of GPS/INS/UWB integrated navigation when UWB signal is unavailable. Full article
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Open AccessArticle
Monitoring Bare Soil Freeze–Thaw Process Using GPS-Interferometric Reflectometry: Simulation and Validation
Remote Sens. 2018, 10(1), 14; https://doi.org/10.3390/rs10010014 - 22 Dec 2017
Cited by 3
Abstract
Frozen soil and permafrost affect ecosystem diversity and productivity as well as global energy and water cycles. Although some space-based Radar techniques or ground-based sensors can monitor frozen soil and permafrost variations, there are some shortcomings and challenges. For the first time, we [...] Read more.
Frozen soil and permafrost affect ecosystem diversity and productivity as well as global energy and water cycles. Although some space-based Radar techniques or ground-based sensors can monitor frozen soil and permafrost variations, there are some shortcomings and challenges. For the first time, we use GPS-Interferometric Reflectometry (GPS-IR) to monitor and investigate the bare soil freeze–thaw process as a new remote sensing tool. The mixed-texture permittivity models are employed to calculate the frozen and thawed soil permittivities. When the soil freeze/thaw process occurs, there is an abrupt change in the soil permittivity, which will result in soil scattering variations. The corresponding theoretical simulation results from the forward GPS multipath simulator show variations of GPS multipath observables. As for the in-situ measurements, virtual bistatic radar is employed to simplify the analysis. Within the GPS-IR spatial resolution, one SNOTEL site (ID 958) and one corresponding PBO (plate boundary observatory) GPS site (AB33) are used for analysis. In 2011, two representative days (frozen soil on Doy of Year (DOY) 318 and thawed soil on DOY 322) show the SNR changes of phase and amplitude. The GPS site and the corresponding SNOTEL site in four different years are analyzed for comparisons. When the soil freeze/thaw process occurred and no confounding snow depth and soil moisture effects existed, it exhibited a good absolute correlation (|R| = 0.72 in 2009, |R| = 0.902 in 2012, |R| = 0.646 in 2013, and |R| = 0.7017 in 2014) with the average detrended SNR data. Our theoretical simulation and experimental results demonstrate that GPS-IR has potential for monitoring the bare soil temperature during the soil freeze–thaw process, while more test works should be done in the future. GNSS-R polarimetry is also discussed as an option for detection. More retrieval work about elevation and polarization combinations are the focus of future development. Full article
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Open AccessArticle
Characterizing the Seasonal Crustal Motion in Tianshan Area Using GPS, GRACE and Surface Loading Models
Remote Sens. 2017, 9(12), 1303; https://doi.org/10.3390/rs9121303 - 12 Dec 2017
Cited by 7
Abstract
Complex tectonic and non-tectonic movements exist in the Tianshan area. However, we have not acquired good knowledge of such movements yet. In this study, we combine Global Positioning System (GPS), the Gravity Recovery and Climate Experiment (GRACE) and Surface Loading Models (SLMs) data [...] Read more.
Complex tectonic and non-tectonic movements exist in the Tianshan area. However, we have not acquired good knowledge of such movements yet. In this study, we combine Global Positioning System (GPS), the Gravity Recovery and Climate Experiment (GRACE) and Surface Loading Models (SLMs) data to study the seasonal vertical crustal displacements in the Tianshan area. The results show that all three datasets exhibit significant annual variations at all 26 local GPS stations. Correlation coefficients higher than 0.8 between the GRACE and GPS data were observed at 85% of the stations, and it became 92% when comparing GPS and SLMs. The Weighted Root Mean Squares (WRMS) reductions were 41% and 47% after removing the annual displacements of GRACE and SLMs from the GPS time series, respectively. The consistency between the GPS and SLMs data was higher than that between the GPS and GRACE data, which is mainly due to the dominant position of atmospheric loading in the study area. For the abnormal station XJYN (43°N, 81°E), the GPS time series showed an abnormal uplift from early 2013 to early 2015, but this not shown in the GRACE and SLMs results. We attribute this discrepancy to groundwater variations, which are not resolvable by GRACE and SLMs for small-scale regions. Full article
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Open AccessArticle
GPS and BeiDou Differential Code Bias Estimation Using Fengyun-3C Satellite Onboard GNSS Observations
Remote Sens. 2017, 9(12), 1239; https://doi.org/10.3390/rs9121239 - 01 Dec 2017
Cited by 3
Abstract
Differential code biases (DCBs) are important parameters in GNSS (Global Navigation Satellite System) applications such as positioning as well as ionosphere remote sensing. In comparison to the conventional approach, which utilizes ground-based observations and parameterizes global ionosphere maps together with DCBs, a method [...] Read more.
Differential code biases (DCBs) are important parameters in GNSS (Global Navigation Satellite System) applications such as positioning as well as ionosphere remote sensing. In comparison to the conventional approach, which utilizes ground-based observations and parameterizes global ionosphere maps together with DCBs, a method is presented for GPS and BeiDou system (BDS) satellite DCB estimation using onboard observations from the Chinese Fengyun-3C (FY3C) satellite. One month worth of GPS and BDS data during March 2015 was exploited and the GPS C1C-C2W and BDS C2I-C7I DCBs were explored. To improve DCB estimation precision, the dual frequency carrier phase measurements leveled by code measurements were used to form basic observation equation. Code multipath errors of the FY3C onboard GPS/BDS observations were assessed and modeled as grid maps, and their impact on DCB estimation was analyzed. By correcting code multipath errors, the stability of DCB estimates was improved by 5.0%, 3.1%, 16.2% and 13.6% for GPS, and BDS geosynchronous orbit satellites (GEOs), inclined geosynchronous satellite orbit satellites (IGSOs) and medium Earth orbit satellites (MEOs), respectively. The monthly stability of FY3C-based DCBs was at the order of 0.1 ns for GPS satellites, 0.2 ns for BDS GEOs and 0.1 ns for BDS IGSOs and MEOs. By comparison to the ground-based DCB products issued by other institutions, FY3C-based DCBs showed stability degradation for BDS C02 and C05 satellites, while, for other satellites, the stability reached a similar or even superior level. The estimated FY3C receiver DCB stability was at the order of 0.2 ns for both GPS and BDS. In addition to the DCB estimates, the obtained vertical total electron content above the FY3C satellite orbit was also investigated and its realism was examined in physical and numerical aspects. Full article
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Open AccessArticle
Ionosphere Model for European Region Based on Multi-GNSS Data and TPS Interpolation
Remote Sens. 2017, 9(12), 1221; https://doi.org/10.3390/rs9121221 - 27 Nov 2017
Cited by 10
Abstract
The ionosphere is still considered one of the most significant error sources in precise Global Navigation Satellite Systems (GNSS) positioning. On the other hand, new satellite signals and data processing methods allow for a continuous increase in the accuracy of the available ionosphere [...] Read more.
The ionosphere is still considered one of the most significant error sources in precise Global Navigation Satellite Systems (GNSS) positioning. On the other hand, new satellite signals and data processing methods allow for a continuous increase in the accuracy of the available ionosphere models derived from GNSS observables. Therefore, many research groups around the world are conducting research on the development of precise ionosphere products. This is also reflected in the establishment of several ionosphere-related working groups by the International Association of Geodesy. Whilst a number of available global ionosphere maps exist today, dense regional GNSS networks often offer the possibility of higher accuracy regional solutions. In this contribution, we propose an approach for regional ionosphere modelling based on un-differenced multi-GNSS carrier phase data for total electron content (TEC) estimation, and thin plate splines for TEC interpolation. In addition, we propose a methodology for ionospheric products self-consistency analysis based on calibrated slant TEC. The results of the presented approach are compared to well-established global ionosphere maps during varied ionospheric conditions. The initial results show that the accuracy of our regional ionospheric vertical TEC maps is well below 1 TEC unit, and that it is at least a factor of 2 better than the global products. Full article
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Open AccessArticle
Stochastic Models of Very High-Rate (50 Hz) GPS/BeiDou Code and Phase Observations
Remote Sens. 2017, 9(11), 1188; https://doi.org/10.3390/rs9111188 - 21 Nov 2017
Cited by 3
Abstract
In recent years, very high-rate (10–50 Hz) Global Navigation Satellite System (GNSS) has gained a rapid development and has been widely applied in seismology, natural hazard early warning system and structural monitoring. However, existing studies on stochastic models of GNSS observations are limited [...] Read more.
In recent years, very high-rate (10–50 Hz) Global Navigation Satellite System (GNSS) has gained a rapid development and has been widely applied in seismology, natural hazard early warning system and structural monitoring. However, existing studies on stochastic models of GNSS observations are limited to sampling rates not higher than 1 Hz. To support very high-rate GNSS applications, we assess the precisions, cross correlations and time correlations of very high-rate (50 Hz) Global Positioning System (GPS)/BeiDou code and phase observations. The method of least-squares variance component estimation is applied with the geometry-based functional model using the GNSS single-differenced observations. The real-data experimental results show that the precisions are elevation-dependent at satellite elevation angles below 40° and nearly constant at satellite elevation angles above 40°. The precisions of undifferenced observations are presented, exhibiting different patterns for different observation types and satellites, especially for BeiDou because different types of satellites are involved. GPS and BeiDou have comparable precisions at high satellite elevation angles, reaching 0.91–1.26 mm and 0.13–0.17 m for phase and code, respectively, while, at low satellite elevation angles, GPS precisions are generally lower than BeiDou ones. The cross correlation between dual-frequency phase is very significant, with the coefficients of 0.773 and 0.927 for GPS and BeiDou, respectively. The cross correlation between dual-frequency code is much less significant, and no correlation can be found between phase and code. Time correlations exist for GPS/BeiDou phase and code at time lags within 1 s. At very small time lags of 0.02–0.12 s, time correlations of 0.041–0.293 and 0.858–0.945 can be observed for phase and code observations, respectively, indicating that the correlations in time should be taken into account in very high-rate applications. Full article
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Open AccessArticle
Improving the Triple-Carrier Ambiguity Resolution with a New Ionosphere-Free and Variance-Restricted Method
Remote Sens. 2017, 9(11), 1108; https://doi.org/10.3390/rs9111108 - 30 Oct 2017
Cited by 2
Abstract
The ionospheric bias and the combined observation noise are two crucial factors affecting the reliability of the triple-carrier ambiguity resolution (TCAR). In order to obtain a better reliability of TCAR, a new ionosphere-free and variance-restricted TCAR method is proposed through exploring the ambiguity [...] Read more.
The ionospheric bias and the combined observation noise are two crucial factors affecting the reliability of the triple-carrier ambiguity resolution (TCAR). In order to obtain a better reliability of TCAR, a new ionosphere-free and variance-restricted TCAR method is proposed through exploring the ambiguity link between each step of TCAR. The method constructs an ionosphere-free combination and simultaneously restricts the combined observation noise with respect to the wavelength to a sufficiently low level for each step of TCAR. The performance of the proposed method is tested by the datasets from the BeiDou navigation satellite system (BDS), with the baseline varying from 7.7 km to 68.8 km. Comparing with the state-of-the-art TCAR methods, the experimental results indicate that the proposed method can obtain a better performance of ambiguity resolution, even though the double-differenced ionospheric delay increases up to 72.4 cm at the baseline of 68.8 km. Full article
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Open AccessArticle
A New Online Service for the Validation of Multi-GNSS Orbits Using SLR
Remote Sens. 2017, 9(10), 1049; https://doi.org/10.3390/rs9101049 - 14 Oct 2017
Cited by 12
Abstract
In the last decade, we have been witnessing a rapid development of the constellations of Global and Regional Navigation Satellite Systems (GNSS/RNSS). Besides the well-known GPS and GLONASS, newly developed systems such as Galileo, BeiDou, QZSS and NAVIC have become increasingly important. All [...] Read more.
In the last decade, we have been witnessing a rapid development of the constellations of Global and Regional Navigation Satellite Systems (GNSS/RNSS). Besides the well-known GPS and GLONASS, newly developed systems such as Galileo, BeiDou, QZSS and NAVIC have become increasingly important. All satellites of new GNSS are equipped with laser retroreflector arrays (LRA) dedicated to Satellite Laser Ranging (SLR). SLR allows, e.g., an independent validation of microwave-based orbit products. Therefore, a fully operational online service called the multi-GNSS Orbit Validation Visualizer Using SLR (GOVUS) has been developed allowing for near real-time analysis of the quality of multi-GNSS orbits. The mean offsets of SLR residuals for Center for Orbit Determination in Europe (CODE) orbits in 2016 are at the level of −8, −38, −14, and −107 mm, for BeiDou, Galileo, GLONASS, and QZSS, respectively, with the standard deviations of 66, 36, 29, and 100 mm. Moreover, GOVUS can be used as a database containing information on equipment used at SLR stations and multi-GNSS satellite parameters. This paper includes a comprehensive description of the functionality and the structure of the developed service with exemplary analyses. The paper points out the most critical issues, limitations and challenges of multi-GNSS and SLR tracking network in the context of the SLR orbit validation. The goal of the paper and GOVUS itself is to determine: (1) what is the current quality of multi-GNSS orbits validated using SLR results; (2) what kinds of systematic errors can affect GNSS orbits and SLR observations; and (3) how to provide the online analysis tools to the broadest possible multi-GNSS community. The service has been officially operating since March 2017 as the Associate Analysis Center of the International Laser Ranging Service (ILRS ACC). Full article
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Open AccessArticle
Global Surface Mass Variations from Continuous GPS Observations and Satellite Altimetry Data
Remote Sens. 2017, 9(10), 1000; https://doi.org/10.3390/rs9101000 - 27 Sep 2017
Cited by 2
Abstract
The Gravity Recovery and Climate Experiment (GRACE) mission is able to observe the global large-scale mass and water cycle for the first time with unprecedented spatial and temporal resolution. However, no other time-varying gravity fields validate GRACE. Furthermore, the C20 of GRACE [...] Read more.
The Gravity Recovery and Climate Experiment (GRACE) mission is able to observe the global large-scale mass and water cycle for the first time with unprecedented spatial and temporal resolution. However, no other time-varying gravity fields validate GRACE. Furthermore, the C20 of GRACE is poor, and no GRACE data are available before 2002 and there will likely be a gap between the GRACE and GRACE-FOLLOW-ON mission. To compensate for GRACE’s shortcomings, in this paper, we provide an alternative way to invert Earth’s time-varying gravity field, using a priori degree variance as a constraint on amplitudes of Stoke’s coefficients up to degree and order 60, by combining continuous GPS coordinate time series and satellite altimetry (SA) mean sea level anomaly data from January 2003 to December 2012. Analysis results show that our estimated zonal low-degree gravity coefficients agree well with those of GRACE, and large-scale mass distributions are also investigated and assessed. It was clear that our method effectively detected global large-scale mass changes, which is consistent with GRACE observations and the GLDAS model, revealing the minimums of annual water cycle in the Amazon in September and October. The global mean mass uncertainty of our solution is about two times larger than that of GRACE after applying a Gaussian spatial filter with a half wavelength at 500 km. The sensitivity analysis further shows that ground GPS observations dominate the lower-degree coefficients but fail to contribute to the higher-degree coefficients, while SA plays a complementary role at higher-degree coefficients. Consequently, a comparison in both the spherical harmonic and geographic domain confirms our global inversion for the time-varying gravity field from GPS and Satellite Altimetry. Full article
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Open AccessArticle
Inter-System Differencing between GPS and BDS for Medium-Baseline RTK Positioning
Remote Sens. 2017, 9(9), 948; https://doi.org/10.3390/rs9090948 - 13 Sep 2017
Cited by 15
Abstract
An inter-system differencing model between two Global Navigation Satellite Systems (GNSS) enables only one reference satellite for all observations. If the associated differential inter-system biases (DISBs) are priori known, double-differenced (DD) ambiguities between overlapping frequencies from different GNSS constellations can also be fixed [...] Read more.
An inter-system differencing model between two Global Navigation Satellite Systems (GNSS) enables only one reference satellite for all observations. If the associated differential inter-system biases (DISBs) are priori known, double-differenced (DD) ambiguities between overlapping frequencies from different GNSS constellations can also be fixed to integers. This can provide more redundancies for the observation model, and thus will be beneficial to ambiguity resolution (AR) and real-time kinematic (RTK) positioning. However, for Global Positioning System (GPS) and the regional BeiDou Navigation Satellite System (BDS-2), there are no overlapping frequencies. Tight combination of GPS and BDS needs to process not only the DISBs but also the single-difference ambiguity of the reference satellite, which is caused by the influence of different frequencies. In this paper, we propose a tightly combined dual-frequency GPS and BDS RTK positioning model for medium baselines with real-time estimation of DISBs. The stability of the pseudorange and phase DISBs is analyzed firstly using several baselines with the same or different receiver types. The dual-frequency ionosphere-free model with parameterization of GPS-BDS DISBs is proposed, where the single-difference ambiguity is estimated jointly with the phase DISB parameter from epoch to epoch. The performance of combined GPS and BDS RTK positioning for medium baselines is evaluated with simulated obstructed environments. Experimental results show that with the inter-system differencing model, the accuracy and reliability of RTK positioning can be effectively improved, especially for the obstructed environments with a small number of satellites available. Full article
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Open AccessArticle
An Improved Tomography Approach Based on Adaptive Smoothing and Ground Meteorological Observations
Remote Sens. 2017, 9(9), 886; https://doi.org/10.3390/rs9090886 - 25 Aug 2017
Cited by 4
Abstract
Using the Global Navigation Satellite System (GNSS) to sense three-dimensional water vapor (WV) has been intensively investigated. However, this technique still heavily relies on the a priori information. In this study, we propose an improved tomography approach based on adaptive Laplacian smoothing (ALS) [...] Read more.
Using the Global Navigation Satellite System (GNSS) to sense three-dimensional water vapor (WV) has been intensively investigated. However, this technique still heavily relies on the a priori information. In this study, we propose an improved tomography approach based on adaptive Laplacian smoothing (ALS) and ground meteorological observations. By using the proposed approach, the troposphere tomography is less dependent on a priori information and the ALS constraints match better with the actual situation than the constant constraints. Tomography experiments in Hong Kong during a heavy rainy period and a rainless period show that the ALS method gets superior results compared with the constant Laplacian smoothing (CLS) method. By validation with radiosonde and European Centre for Medium-Range Weather Forecasts (ECMWF) data, we found that the introduction of ground meteorological observations into tomography can solve the perennial problem of resolving the wet refractivity in the lower troposphere and thus significantly improve the tomography results. However, bad data quality and incompatibility of the ground meteorological observations may introduce errors into tomography results. Full article
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Open AccessArticle
National BDS Augmentation Service System (NBASS) of China: Progress and Assessment
Remote Sens. 2017, 9(8), 837; https://doi.org/10.3390/rs9080837 - 12 Aug 2017
Cited by 11
Abstract
Abstract: In this contribution, the processing strategies of real-time BeiDou System (BDS) precise orbits, clocks, and ionospheric corrections in the National BDS Augmentation Service System (NBASS) are briefly introduced. The Root Mean Square (RMS) of BDS predicted orbits are better than 10 cm [...] Read more.
Abstract: In this contribution, the processing strategies of real-time BeiDou System (BDS) precise orbits, clocks, and ionospheric corrections in the National BDS Augmentation Service System (NBASS) are briefly introduced. The Root Mean Square (RMS) of BDS predicted orbits are better than 10 cm in radial and cross-track components, and the accuracy of the BDS real-time clock is better than 0.5 ns for Inclined Geosynchronous Orbit (IGSO) and Mid Earth Orbit (MEO) satellites. The accuracy of BDS Geostationary Earth Orbit (GEO) orbits and clocks are worse than the IGSO and MEO satellites due to its poor geometry conditions. The real-time ionospheric correction is evaluated by cross-validation, and the average accuracy in the vertical direction is about 4 TECU. With these real-time corrections, the overall single and dual-frequency kinematic precise point positioning (PPP) performance in China are evaluated in terms of positioning accuracy at the 95% confidence level and convergence time. The BDS PPP positioning accuracy shows significant regional characteristics due to the geometry distribution of BDS satellites and the accuracy of ionospheric model in different regions. The BDS dual-frequency PPP positioning accuracy in high-latitude and western fringe region is about 0.5 m and 1.0 m in the horizontal and vertical component, respectively, while the horizontal accuracy is better than 0.2 m and the vertical accuracy is better than 0.3 m in the midlands. The convergence time of the BDS PPP is much longer than the GPS PPP and it needs more than 60 min to achieve the accuracy better than 10 cm in both horizontal and vertical directions for dual-frequency PPP. Similar with dual-frequency PPP, the positioning accuracy of the BDS single-frequency PPP in the fringe region is worse than other regions. The positioning in the midlands can achieve 0.5 m in horizontal component and 1.0 m in the vertical component. In addition, when GPS and BDS are combined, the positioning performance of both single-frequency and dual-frequency PPP can be greatly improved. Full article
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Open AccessArticle
On-Board GNSS/IMU Assisted Feature Extraction and Matching for Oblique UAV Images
Remote Sens. 2017, 9(8), 813; https://doi.org/10.3390/rs9080813 - 07 Aug 2017
Cited by 15
Abstract
Feature extraction and matching is a crucial task in the fields of computer vision and photogrammetry. Even though wide researches have been reported, some issues are still existing for oblique images. This paper exploits the use of on-board GNSS/IMU (Global Navigation Satellite System/Inertial [...] Read more.
Feature extraction and matching is a crucial task in the fields of computer vision and photogrammetry. Even though wide researches have been reported, some issues are still existing for oblique images. This paper exploits the use of on-board GNSS/IMU (Global Navigation Satellite System/Inertial Measurement Unit) data to achieve efficient and reliable feature extraction and matching for oblique unmanned aerial vehicle (UAV) images. Firstly, rough POS (Positioning and Orientation System) is calculated for each image with cooperation of on-board GNSS/IMU data and camera installation angles, which enables image rectification and footprint calculation. Secondly, two robust strategies, including the geometric rectification and tile strategy, are considered to address the issues caused by perspective deformations and to relieve the side-effects of image down-sampling. According to the results of individual performance evaluation, four combinations of these two strategies are designed and comprehensively compared in BA (Bundle Adjustment) experiments by using a real oblique UAV dataset. The results reported in this paper demonstrate that the solution with the tiling strategy is superior to the other solutions in terms of efficiency, completeness and accuracy. For feature extraction and matching of oblique UAV images, it is proposed to combine the tiling strategy with existing workflows to achieve an efficient and reliable solution. Full article
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Open AccessArticle
Precise Orbit Determination of BeiDou Satellites with Contributions from Chinese National Continuous Operating Reference Stations
Remote Sens. 2017, 9(8), 810; https://doi.org/10.3390/rs9080810 - 06 Aug 2017
Cited by 5
Abstract
The precise orbit determination (POD) for BeiDou satellites is usually limited by the insufficient quantity and poor distribution of ground tracking stations. To cope with this problem, this study used the GPS and BeiDou joint POD method based on Chinese national continuous operating [...] Read more.
The precise orbit determination (POD) for BeiDou satellites is usually limited by the insufficient quantity and poor distribution of ground tracking stations. To cope with this problem, this study used the GPS and BeiDou joint POD method based on Chinese national continuous operating reference stations (CNCORS) and IGS/MGEX stations. The results show that the 3D RMS of the differences of overlapping arcs is better than 22 cm for geostationary orbit (GEO) satellites and better than 10 cm for inclined geosynchronous orbit (IGSO) and medium earth orbit (MEO) satellites. The radial RMS is better than 2 cm for all three types of BeiDou satellites. The results of satellite laser ranging (SLR) residuals show that the RMS of the IGSO and MEO satellites is better than 5 cm, whereas the GEO satellite has a systematic bias. This study investigates the contributions of CNCORS to the POD of BeiDou satellites. The results show that after the incorporation of CNCORS, the precision of overlapping arcs of the GEO, IGSO, and MEO satellites is improved by 15.5%, 57.5%, and 5.3%, respectively. In accordance with the improvement in the precision of overlapping arcs, the accuracy of the IGSO and MEO satellites assessed by the SLR is improved by 30.1% and 4.8%, respectively. The computation results and analysis demonstrate that the inclusion of CNCORS yields the biggest contribution in the improvement of orbit accuracy for IGSO satellites, when compared to GEO satellites, while the orbit improvement for MEO satellites is the lowest due to their global coverage. Full article
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Open AccessArticle
Considering Inter-Frequency Clock Bias for BDS Triple-Frequency Precise Point Positioning
Remote Sens. 2017, 9(7), 734; https://doi.org/10.3390/rs9070734 - 15 Jul 2017
Cited by 11
Abstract
The joint use of multi-frequency signals brings new prospects for precise positioning and has become a trend in Global Navigation Satellite System (GNSS) development. However, a new type of inter-frequency clock bias (IFCB), namely the difference between satellite clocks computed with different ionospheric-free [...] Read more.
The joint use of multi-frequency signals brings new prospects for precise positioning and has become a trend in Global Navigation Satellite System (GNSS) development. However, a new type of inter-frequency clock bias (IFCB), namely the difference between satellite clocks computed with different ionospheric-free carrier phase combinations, was noticed. Consequently, the B1/B3 precise point positioning (PPP) cannot directly use the current B1/B2 clock products. Datasets from 35 globally distributed stations are employed to investigate the IFCB. For new generation BeiDou Navigation Satellite System (BDS) satellites, namely BDS-3 satellites, the IFCB between B1/B2a and B1/B3 satellite clocks, between B1/B2b and B1/B3 satellite clocks, between B1C/B2a and B1C/B3 satellite clocks, and between B1C/B2b and B1C/B3 satellite clocks is analyzed, and no significant IFCB variations can be observed. The IFCB between B1/B2 and B1/B3 satellite clocks for BDS-2 satellites varies with time, and the IFCB variations are generally confined to peak amplitudes of about 5 cm. The IFCB of BDS-2 satellites exhibits periodic signal, and the accuracy of prediction for IFCB, namely the root mean square (RMS) statistic of the difference between predicted and estimated IFCB values, is 1.2 cm. A triple-frequency PPP model with consideration of IFCB is developed. Compared with B1/B2-based PPP, the positioning accuracy of triple-frequency PPP with BDS-2 satellites can be improved by 12%, 25% and 10% in east, north and vertical directions, respectively. Full article
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Open AccessTechnical Note
Comparison of Three Methods for Estimating GPS Multipath Repeat Time
Remote Sens. 2018, 10(2), 6; https://doi.org/10.3390/rs10020006 - 23 Jan 2018
Cited by 7
Abstract
Sidereal filtering is an effective method for mitigating multipath error in static GPS positioning. Using accurate estimates of multipath repeat time (MRT) in sidereal filtering can further improve the performance of the filter. There are three commonly used methods for estimating the MRT: [...] Read more.
Sidereal filtering is an effective method for mitigating multipath error in static GPS positioning. Using accurate estimates of multipath repeat time (MRT) in sidereal filtering can further improve the performance of the filter. There are three commonly used methods for estimating the MRT: Orbit Repeat Time Method (ORTM), Aspect Repeat Time Adjustment (ARTA), and Residual Correlation Method (RCM). This study utilizes advanced sidereal filtering (ASF) adopting the MRT estimates derived by the three methods to mitigate the multipath in observation domain, then evaluates the three methods in term of multipath reduction in both coordinate and observation domain. Normally, the differences between the MRT estimates from the three methods are less than 1.2 s on average. The three methods are basically identical in multipath reduction, with RCM being slightly better than the other two methods, whereas for a satellite affected by orbit maneuver (satellite number 13 in this study), the MRT estimated by the three methods differ by up to tens of seconds, and the RCM- and ARTA-derived MRT estimates are better than ORTM-derived ones for ASF multipath reduction. The RCM shows a slight advantage in multipath mitigation, while ORTM is the one of lowest computation and ARTA is the optimal one for real-time ASF. Thus, the best MRT estimation method for practical applications depends on which criterion overweighs the others. Full article
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