Precision Orbit Determination Standards for the Jason Series of Altimeter Missions

The Jason-1 altimeter satellite and its follow-on mission Jason-2/OSTM were launched in December 2001 and June 2008, respectively, to provide the scientific community with a high-accuracy continuous record of observations of the ocean surface topography. Both missions carry on board three state-of-the-art tracking systems (DORIS, GPS, SLR) to meet the requirement of better-than-1.5 cm radial accuracy for the operational orbit included in the geophysical data record (GDR) product. This article outlines the common set of models and processing techniques applied to both Jason reprocessed and operational orbits included in version C of the GDR, referred to as GDR-C standards for precision orbit determination (POD), and describes the systematic components of the radial error budget that are of most interest for the altimeter data analysts. The nonsystematic component of the error budget, quantified by intercomparison of orbits using similar models or with reduced dependency on the dynamic models, is generally at or below 7 mm RMS (root-mean-square). In particular, the average daily RMS of the radial difference between the JPL and CNES reduced-dynamic orbits on Jason-2 is below 6 mm. Concerning the dynamic models employed, the principal contributors to residual systematic differences appear to be the time varying gravity and solar radiation pressure, resulting in geographically correlated periodic signals that have amplitudes at the few-mm level. Concerning the drifts of the orbits along the North/South direction, all solutions agree to better than the 1 mm/year level.
Year of Publication
Marine Geodesy
Number of Pages