Precise orbit determination for the FORMOSAT-3/COSMIC satellite mission using GPS

Chein-way Hwang*, Tzu Pang Tseng, Tingjung Lin, Dražen Švehla, Bill Schreiner

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

27 Scopus citations


The joint Taiwan-US mission FORMOSAT-3/COSMIC (COSMIC) was launched on April 17, 2006. Each of the six satellites is equipped with two POD antennas. The orbits of the six satellites are determined from GPS data using zero-difference carrier-phase measurements by the reduced dynamic and kinematic methods. The effects of satellite center of mass (COM) variation, satellite attitude, GPS antenna phase center variation (PCV), and cable delay difference on the COSMIC orbit determination are studied. Nominal attitudes estimated from satellite state vectors deliver a better orbit accuracy when compared to observed attitude. Numerical tests show that the COSMIC COM must be precisely calibrated in order not to corrupt orbit determination. Based on the analyses of the 5 and 6-h orbit overlaps of two 30-h arcs, orbit accuracies from the reduced dynamic and kinematic solutions are nearly identical and are at the 2-3 cm level. The mean RMS difference between the orbits from this paper and those from UCAR (near real-time) and WHU (post-processed) is about 10 cm, which is largely due to different uses of GPS ephemerides, high-rate GPS clocks and force models. The kinematic orbits of COSMIC are expected to be used for recovery of temporal variations in the gravity field.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)477-489
Number of pages13
JournalJournal of Geodesy
Issue number5
StatePublished - 1 Jan 2009


  • Attitude
  • GPS
  • Kinematic orbit
  • Reduced dynamic orbit


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