Precision orbit determination performance for CryoSat-2

Ernst Schrama*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleScientificpeer-review

13 Citations (Scopus)


In this paper we discuss our efforts to perform precision orbit determination (POD) of CryoSat-2 which depends on Doppler and satellite laser ranging tracking data. A dynamic orbit model is set-up and the residuals between the model and the tracking data is evaluated. The average r.m.s. of the 10 s averaged Doppler tracking pass residuals is approximately 0.39 mm/s; and the average of the laser tracking pass residuals becomes 1.42 cm. There are a number of other tests to verify the quality of the orbit solution, we compare our computed orbits against three independent external trajectories provided by the CNES. The CNES products are part of the CryoSat-2 products distributed by ESA. The radial differences of our solution relative to the CNES precision orbits shows an average r.m.s. of 1.25 cm between Jun-2010 and Apr-2017. The SIRAL altimeter crossover difference statistics demonstrate that the quality of our orbit solution is comparable to that of the POE solution computed by the CNES. In this paper we will discuss three important changes in our POD activities that have brought the orbit performance to this level. The improvements concern the way we implement temporal gravity accelerations observed by GRACE; the implementation of ITRF2014 coordinates and velocities for the DORIS beacons and the SLR tracking sites. We also discuss an adjustment of the SLR retroreflector position within the satellite reference frame. An unexpected result is that we find a systematic difference between the median of the 10 s Doppler tracking residuals which displays a statistically significant pattern in the South Atlantic Anomaly (SSA) area where the median of the velocity residuals varies in the range of -0.15 to +0.15 mm/s.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)235-247
JournalAdvances in Space Research
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - 2018


  • ITRF2014
  • Precise orbit determination (POD)
  • Satellite laser ranging


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