Sentinel-1A - First precise orbit determination results

H. Peter-Contesse, Adrian Jäggi, JJ Fernández, D. Escobar, F. Ayuga, D Arnold, M. Wermuth, S. Hackel, M. Otten, W. Simons, P. Visser, U. Hugentobler, P. Féménias

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Sentinel-1A is the first satellite of the European Copernicus programme. Equipped with a Synthetic Aperture Radar (SAR) instrument the satellite was launched on April 3, 2014. Operational since October 2014 the satellite delivers valuable data for more than two years. The orbit accuracy requirements are given as 5. cm in 3D. In order to fulfill this stringent requirement the precise orbit determination (POD) is based on the dual-frequency GPS observations delivered by an eight-channel GPS receiver.The Copernicus POD (CPOD) Service is in charge of providing the orbital and auxiliary products required by the PDGS (Payload Data Ground Segment). External orbit validation is regularly performed by comparing the CPOD Service orbits to orbit solutions provided by POD expert members of the Copernicus POD Quality Working Group (QWG). The orbit comparisons revealed systematic orbit offsets mainly in radial direction (approx. 3. cm). Although no independent observation technique (e.g. DORIS, SLR) is available to validate the GPS-derived orbit solutions, comparisons between the different antenna phase center variations and different reduced-dynamic orbit determination approaches used in the various software packages helped to detect the cause of the systematic offset. An error in the given geometry information about the satellite has been found. After correction of the geometry the orbit validation shows a significant reduction of the radial offset to below 5. mm. The 5. cm orbit accuracy requirement in 3D is fulfilled according to the results of the orbit comparisons between the different orbit solutions from the QWG.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)879-892
JournalAdvances in Space Research
Issue number5
Publication statusPublished - 2017


  • Copernicus
  • GPS
  • Orbit validation
  • Phase center variations
  • Precise orbit determination
  • Sentinel-1


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