Comparison of GOCE-GPS gravity fields derived by different approaches

O. Baur*, H. Bock, E. Höck, A. Jäggi, S. Krauss, T. Mayer-Gürr, T. Reubelt, C. Siemes, N. Zehentner

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleScientificpeer-review

23 Citations (Scopus)


Several techniques have been proposed to exploit GNSS-derived kinematic orbit information for the determination of long-wavelength gravity field features. These methods include the (i) celestial mechanics approach, (ii) short-arc approach, (iii) point-wise acceleration approach, (iv) averaged acceleration approach, and (v) energy balance approach. Although there is a general consensus that—except for energy balance—these methods theoretically provide equivalent results, real data gravity field solutions from kinematic orbit analysis have never been evaluated against each other within a consistent data processing environment. This contribution strives to close this gap. Target consistency criteria for our study are the input data sets, period of investigation, spherical harmonic resolution, a priori gravity field information, etc. We compare GOCE gravity field estimates based on the aforementioned approaches as computed at the Graz University of Technology, the University of Bern, the University of Stuttgart/Austrian Academy of Sciences, and by RHEA Systems for the European Space Agency. The involved research groups complied with most of the consistency criterions. Deviations only occur where technical unfeasibility exists. Performance measures include formal errors, differences with respect to a state-of-the-art GRACE gravity field, (cumulative) geoid height differences, and SLR residuals from precise orbit determination of geodetic satellites. We found that for the approaches (i) to (iv), the cumulative geoid height differences at spherical harmonic degree 100 differ by only ≈10 %; in the absence of the polar data gap, SLR residuals agree by ≈96 %. From our investigations, we conclude that real data analysis results are in agreement with the theoretical considerations concerning the (relative) performance of the different approaches.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)959-973
Number of pages15
JournalJournal of Geodesy
Issue number10
Publication statusPublished - 2014
Externally publishedYes


  • Comparison of approaches
  • GOCE
  • GPS
  • Gravity field
  • Kinematic positions
  • Orbit analysis


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