Orbit and altimetric corrections for the ERS satellites through analysis of single and dual satellite crossovers

  • Stuart Carnochan

Student thesis: Doctoral ThesisDoctor of Philosophy


Due to the failure of PRARE the orbital accuracy of ERS-1 is typically 10-15 cm radially as compared to 3-4cm for TOPEX/Poseidon. To gain the most from these simultaneous datasets it is necessary to improve the orbital accuracy of ERS-1 so that it is commensurate with that of TOPEX/Poseidon. For the integration of these two datasets it is also necessary to determine the altimeter and sea state biases for each of the satellites.
Several models for the sea state bias of ERS-1 are considered by analysis of the ERS-1 single satellite crossovers. The model adopted consists of the sea state bias as a percentage of the significant wave height, namely 5.95%.
The removal of ERS-1 orbit error and recovery of an ERS-1 - TOPEX/Poseidon relative bias are both achieved by analysis of dual crossover residuals. The gravitational field based radial orbit error is modelled by a finite Fourier expansion series with the dominant frequencies determined by analysis of the JGM-2 co-variance matrix. Periodic and secular terms to model the errors due to atmospheric density, solar radiation pressure and initial state vector mis-modelling are also solved for. Validation of the dataset unification consists of comparing the mean sea surface topographies and annual variabilities derived from both the corrected and uncorrected ERS-1 orbits with those derived from TOPEX/Poseidon. The global and regional geographically fixed/variable orbit errors are also analysed pre and post correction, and a significant reduction is noted.
Finally the use of dual/single satellite crossovers and repeat pass data, for the calibration of ERS-2 with respect to ERS-1 and TOPEX/Poseidon is shown by calculating the ERS-1/2 sea state and relative biases.
Date of AwardOct 1996
Original languageEnglish
SupervisorPhilip Moore (Supervisor) & Philip L. Woodworth (Supervisor)


  • altimeter range bias
  • radial orbit error
  • sea state bias
  • TOPEX/Poseidon

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