Surveys in Geophysics

, Volume 34, Issue 4, pp 375–394 | Cite as

Band-Limited Analysis of Current Satellite-to-Satellite Tracking, Gradiometry and Combined Earth Gravity Models

  • Dimitrios Tsoulis
  • Konstantinos Patlakis


Several satellite-only gravity models based on the analysis of satellite-to-satellite tracking (SST) data have become available in the course of the last decade. The realization of the satellite missions CHAllenging Minisatellite Payload (CHAMP) and Gravity Recovery And Climate Experiment (GRACE) enabled the practical implementation of two modes of the SST principle, namely the high–low and the low–low SST. Though similar in their fundamental idea, which is the indirect observation of the gravity field based on the position of two satellites orbiting the Earth, the different architecture and geometrical layout of these techniques capture different fingerprints of the observed field. In the last few years, satellite-only gravity models based on the analysis of satellite gravity gradiometry (SGG) data became available and led to a new insight into the gravity field. The implementation of the SGG principle became possible after the launch of Gravity field and steady-state Ocean Circulation Explorer (GOCE), the first gravitational gradiometry mission. Based on the principle of differential accelerometry, GOCE provides the gravitational gradients which can be used in gravity field retrieval as primary observations of the field at satellite altitude. In the present study, we consider some of the current satellite-only and combined gravity models based on the analysis of CHAMP, GRACE, GOCE, gravimetry and altimetry data. In order to perform a thorough analysis of the models, we present an overview of tools for their quality assessment both in an absolute and relative sense in terms of computing spectral quantities, such as correlation or smoothing coefficients per degree and per order, attempting to demonstrate possible non-isotropic features in the models. Furthermore, typical geodetic measures in computing second-order derivatives, such as degree and order variances and difference variances, have been also evaluated for the same models, using the combined model EGM2008 as reference. Apart from these standard spectral assessment quantities, a systematic spatial representation of the second derivatives at satellite altitude has been performed. The combination of the two analysis steps (spectral and spatial) permits a first detailed assessment of the models, focusing especially on the identification of characteristic interpretable bandwidths.


Satellite-to-satellite tracking Satellite gravity gradiometry Gravity field Satellite-only gravity models Earth gravity models Spectral assessment 



The International Centre for Global Earth Models (ICGEM) at the Helmholtz Centre Potsdam, GFZ German Research Centre for Geosciences maintains a freely accessible database of all models used in the present survey at Financial support through European Space Agency (ESA) contract 22316/09/NL/CBI is highly appreciated. The two anonymous reviewers are kindly thanked for their detailed comments.


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© Springer Science+Business Media Dordrecht 2013

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Department of Geodesy and SurveyingAristotle University of ThessalonikiThessalonikiGreece

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