Future TRFs and GGOS – where to put the next SLR station?

Kehm, Alexander; Bloßfeld, Mathis; König, Peter; Seitz, Florian

Satellite Laser Ranging (SLR) is one of the four geodetic space techniques contributing to the realisation of terrestrial reference frames (TRFs) as well as to the determination of Earth Rotation Parameters (ERPs). The current SLR tracking network suffers from an insufficient network geometry due to a lack of stations especially in the southern hemisphere. Previous simulation studies have shown that the extension of the global SLR tracking network is indispensable for reaching the target accuracy of future TRFs according to user requests and the ambitious goals of the Global Geodetic Observing System (GGOS). The simulation study presented here puts the focus on a determination of the locations where additional SLR stations are most valuable for an improved estimation of the geodetic parameters.

Within the present study, we perform a simulation of a set of stations distributed homogeneously over the globe and compare different solutions, always adding one of these simulated stations to the real SLR station network. This approach has been chosen in order to be able to investigate the deficiencies of the existing SLR network and to judge in which regions on the globe an additional SLR station would be most valuable for the improvement of certain geodetic parameters of SLR-derived reference frames. It is shown that the optimum location of a future SLR station depends on the parameter of interest. In case of the ERPs, the main potential for improvement by a single additional station can be shown for locations in polar regions (improvement for ypole up to 7 %) and for locations along the equator for the lengh of day (LOD, improvement up to 1.5 %). The TRF parameters would benefit from an additional station around the pierce points of the axes of the terrestrial reference frame (improvement for ty up to 4 %), the Arctic and the Pacific Ocean region (tz improved by up to 4.5 %), and the Antarctic and the Indian Ocean region (scale improved by up to 2.2 %). As outcome of this study, it is concluded that an additional SLR site in the Antarctic region might be of first priority, enabling improvements in the pole coordinates and the scale of the TRF; potential further sites are recommended in the equatorial region, especially beneficial for the origin of the realised TRF as well as for LOD.

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Kehm, Alexander / Bloßfeld, Mathis / König, Peter / et al: Future TRFs and GGOS – where to put the next SLR station?. 2019. Copernicus Publications.

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