Remote Sensing, Vol. 11, Pages 2514: Integrated Precise Orbit Determination of Multi-GNSS and Large LEO Constellations

Research paper by Xingxing Li, Keke Zhang, Fujian Ma, Wei Zhang, Qian Zhang, Yujie Qin, Hongmin Zhang, Yansong Meng, Lang Bian

Indexed on: 30 Oct '19Published on: 27 Oct '19Published in: Remote sensing


Global navigation satellite system (GNSS) orbits are traditionally determined by observation data of ground stations, which usually need even global distribution to ensure adequate observation geometry strength. However, good tracking geometry cannot be achieved for all GNSS satellites due to many factors, such as limited ground stations and special stationary characteristics for the geostationary Earth orbit (GEO) satellites in the BeiDou constellation. Fortunately, the onboard observations from low earth orbiters (LEO) can be an important supplement to overcome the weakness in tracking geometry. In this contribution, we perform large LEO constellation-augmented multi-GNSS precise orbit determination (POD) based on simulated GNSS observations. Six LEO constellations with different satellites numbers, orbit types, and altitudes, as well as global and regional ground networks, are designed to assess the influence of different tracking configurations on the integrated POD. Then, onboard and ground-based GNSS observations are simulated, without regard to the observations between LEO satellites and ground stations. The results show that compared with ground-based POD, a remarkable accuracy improvement of over 70% can be observed for all GNSS satellites when the entire LEO constellation is introduced. Particularly, BDS GEO satellites can obtain centimeter-level orbits, with the largest accuracy improvement being 98%. Compared with the 60-LEO and 66-LEO schemes, the 96-LEO scheme yields an improvement in orbit accuracy of about 1 cm for GEO satellites and 1 mm for other satellites because of the increase of LEO satellites, but leading to a steep rise in the computational time. In terms of the orbital types, the sun-synchronous-orbiting constellation can yield a better tracking geometry for GNSS satellites and a stronger augmentation than the polar-orbiting constellation. As for the LEO altitude, there are almost no large-orbit accuracy differences among the 600, 1000, and 1400 km schemes except for BDS GEO satellites. Furthermore, the GNSS orbit is found to have less dependence on ground stations when incorporating a large number of LEO. The orbit accuracy of the integrated POD with 8 global stations is almost comparable to the result of integrated POD with a denser global network of 65 stations. In addition, we also present an analysis concerning the integrated POD with a partial LEO constellation. The result demonstrates that introducing part of a LEO constellation can be an effective way to balance the conflict between the orbit accuracy and computational efficiency.