Precise monitoring

11Jun07

The accuracy of a calculation can also be improved through precise monitoring and measuring of the existing GPS signals in additional or alternate ways.

The first is called Dual Frequency monitoring, and refers to systems that can compare two or more signals, such as the L1 frequency to the L2 frequency. Since these are two different frequencies, they are affected in different, yet predictable ways by the atmosphere and objects around the receiver. After monitoring these signals, it is possible to calculate and nullify that error.

Receivers that have the correct decryption key can relatively easily decode the P(Y)-code transmitted on both L1 and L2 to measure the error. Receivers that do not possess the key can still use a process called codeless to compare the encrypted information on L1 and L2 to gain much of the same error information. However, this technique is currently limited to specialized surveying equipment. In the future, additional civilian codes are expected to be transmitted on the L2 and L5 frequencies (see #GPS modernization, below). When these become operational, all users will be able to make the same comparison and directly measure some errors.

A second form of precise monitoring is called Carrier-Phase Enhancement (CPGPS). The error, which this corrects, arises because the pulse transition of the PRN is not instantaneous, and thus the correlation (satellite-receiver sequence matching) operation is imperfect. The CPGPS approach utilizes the L1 carrier wave, which has a period 1000 times smaller than that of the C/A bit period, to act as an additional clock signal and resolve the uncertainty. The phase difference error in the normal GPS amounts to between 2 and 3 meters (6 to 10 ft) of ambiguity. CPGPS working to within 1% of perfect transition reduces this error to 3 centimeters (1 inch) of ambiguity. By eliminating this source of error, CPGPS coupled with DGPS normally realizes between 20 and 30 centimeters (8 to 12 inches) of absolute accuracy.

Relative Kinematic Positioning (RKP) is another approach for a precise GPS-based positioning system. In this approach, determination of range signal can be resolved to an accuracy of less than 10 centimeters (4 in). This is done by resolving the number of cycles in which the signal is transmitted and received by the receiver. This can be accomplished by using a combination of differential GPS (DGPS) correction data, transmitting GPS signal phase information and ambiguity resolution techniques via statistical tests – possibly with processing in real-time (real-time kinematic positioning, RTK).

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