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Performance Characterization of ESA's Tropospheric Delay Calibration System for Advanced Radio Science Experiments
  • +6
  • Riccardo Lasagni Manghi,
  • Marco Zannoni,
  • Paolo Tortora,
  • Antonio Martellucci,
  • Javier De Vicente,
  • Jose Villalvilla,
  • Mattia Mercolino,
  • Gerrit Maschwitz,
  • Thomas Rose
Riccardo Lasagni Manghi
University of Bologna

Corresponding Author:[email protected]

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Marco Zannoni
University of Bologna
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Paolo Tortora
Università di Bologna
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Antonio Martellucci
ESA
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Javier De Vicente
ESA
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Jose Villalvilla
ESA-ESOC
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Mattia Mercolino
ESA
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Gerrit Maschwitz
RPG Radiometer Physics GmbH
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Thomas Rose
RPG Radiometer Physics GmbH
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Abstract

Media propagation noises are amongst the main error sources of radiometric observables for deep space missions, with fluctuations of the tropospheric excess path length representing a relevant contributor to the Doppler noise budget. Microwave radiometers currently represent the most accurate instruments for the estimation of the tropospheric path delay (or excess path length) along a slant direction. A prototype of a Tropospheric Delay Calibration System (TDCS), using a 14 channel Ka/V band microwave radiometer, has been developed under ESA contract and installed at the deep-space antenna DS3 complex in Malargüe (Argentina) in February 2019. After its commissioning, the TDCS has been involved in an extensive testbed campaign by recording a total of 44 tracking passes of the Gaia spacecraft, which were used to perform an orbit determination analysis. This work presents the first statistical characterization of the end-to-end performance of the TDCS prototype in an operational scenario. The results show that using TDCS-based calibrations instead of the standard GNSS-based calibrations leads to a significant reduction of the residual Doppler noise and instability.
Oct 2021Published in Radio Science volume 56 issue 10. https://doi.org/10.1029/2021RS007330