A study of solar radiation pressure acting on GPS satellites
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An increasing number of GPS applications require a high level of accuracy. To reduce the error contributed by the GPS ephemerides, an accurate modeling of the forces acting on GPS satellites is necessary. These forces can be categorized into gravitational and non-gravitational forces. The non-gravitational forces are a significant contribution to the total force on a GPS satellite but they are still not fully understood whereas the gravitational forces are well modeled. This study focuses on two non-gravitational forces: Solar Radiation Pressure (SRP) and the y-bias force. Different SRP models are available in the University of Texas Multi-Satellite Orbit Determination Program (MSODP). The recently developed University College London model was implemented for the purpose of this study. Several techniques to compute parameters associated with SRP models and the y-bias force during an orbit prediction were examined. Using the International GNSS Service (IGS) precise ephemerides as a reference, five different models were compared in the study. Satellite Laser Ranging (SLR) residuals were also studied to validate the approach. Results showed that the analytical UCL model performed as well as a purely empirical model such as the Extended CODE model. This is important since analytical models attempt to represent the physical phenomena and thus might be better suited to separate SRP from other forces. The y-bias force was then shown to have a once per revolution effect. The time evolution of the y-bias was found to be dependent on the SRP model used, the satellite Block type, the orbital plane, and the attitude of the satellite which suggests that estimates of y-bias contain errors from other sources, particularly the SRP models. The dependency of the y-bias evolution on the orbital plane suggests that the orientation of the plane towards the Sun is important.