Characterization of On-Orbit GPS Transmit Antenna Patterns for Space Users

Jennifer E. Donaldson, Joel J. K. Parker, Michael C. Moreau, Dolan E. Highsmith, and Philip Martzen

Abstract: The GPS Antenna Characterization Experiment (GPS ACE) has made extensive observations of GPS L1 signals received at geosynchronous (GEO) altitude, with the objective of developing comprehensive models of the signal levels and signal performance in the GPS transmit antenna side lobes. The experiment was originally motivated by the fact that data on the characteristics and performance of the GPS signals available in GEO and other high Earth orbits was limited. The lack of knowledge of the power and accuracy of the side lobe signals on-orbit added risk to missions seeking to employ the side lobes to meet navigation requirements or improve performance. The GPS ACE Project filled that knowledge gap through a collaboration between The Aerospace Corporation and NASA Goddard Spaceflight Center to collect and analyze observations from GPS side lobe transmissions to a satellite at GEO using a highly-sensitive GPS receiver installed at the ground station. The GPS ACE architecture has been in place collecting observations of the GPS constellation with extreme sensitivity for several years. This sensitivity combined with around-the-clock, all-in-view processing enabled full azimuthal coverage of the GPS transmit gain patterns over time to angles beyond 90 degrees off-boresight. Results discussed in this paper include the reconstructed transmit gain patterns, with comparisons to available pre-flight gain measurements from the GPS vehicle contractors. For GPS blocks with extensive ground measurements, the GPS ACE results show remarkable agreement with ground based measurements. For blocks without extensive ground measurements, the GPS ACE results provide the only existing assessments of the full transmit gain patterns. The paper also includes results of pseudorange deviation analysis to assess systematic errors associated with GPS side lobe signals.
Published in: Proceedings of the 31st International Technical Meeting of the Satellite Division of The Institute of Navigation (ION GNSS+ 2018)
September 24 - 28, 2018
Hyatt Regency Miami
Miami, Florida
Pages: 1208 - 1245
Cite this article: Donaldson, Jennifer E., Parker, Joel J. K., Moreau, Michael C., Highsmith, Dolan E., Martzen, Philip, "Characterization of On-Orbit GPS Transmit Antenna Patterns for Space Users," Proceedings of the 31st International Technical Meeting of the Satellite Division of The Institute of Navigation (ION GNSS+ 2018), Miami, Florida, September 2018, pp. 1208-1245.
https://doi.org/10.33012/2018.15967
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