Monitoring GOCE gradiometer calibration parameters using accelerometer and star sensor data: Methodology and first results

Christian Siemes*, Roger Haagmans, Michael Kern, Gernot Plank, Rune Floberghagen

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleScientificpeer-review

32 Citations (Scopus)


The Gravity field and steady-state Ocean Circulation Explorer (GOCE) satellite, launched on 17 March 2009, is designed to measure the Earth's mean gravity field with unprecedented accuracy at spatial resolutions down to 100 km. The accurate calibration of the gravity gradiometer on-board GOCE is of utmost importance for achieving the mission goals. ESA's baseline method for the calibration uses star sensor and accelerometer data of a dedicated calibration procedure, which is executed every 2 months. In this paper, we describe a method for monitoring the evolution of calibration parameter during that time. The method works with star sensor and accelerometer data and does not require gravity field models, which distinguishes it from other existing methods. We present time series of calibration parameters estimated from GOCE data from 1 November 2009 to 17 May 2010. The time series confirm drifts in the calibration parameters that are present in the results of other methods, including ESA's baseline method. Although these drifts are very small, they degrade the gravity gradients, leading to the conclusion that the calibration parameters of the ESA's baseline method need to be linearly interpolated. Further, we find a correction of -36 × 10 -6 for one calibration parameter (in-line differential scale factor of the cross-track gradiometer arm), which improves the gravity gradient performance. The results are validated by investigating the trace of the calibrated gravity gradients and comparing calibrated gravity gradients with reference gradients computed along the GOCE orbit using the ITG-Grace-2010s gravity field model.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)629-645
Number of pages17
JournalJournal of Geodesy
Issue number8
Publication statusPublished - 2012
Externally publishedYes


  • Calibration
  • GOCE
  • Gradiometer
  • Gravity field


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