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GPS SATELLITE ORBIT COMPUTATION

INTRODUCTION OF KEPLERS LAWS


The orbit of each planet is an ellipse with the Sun at one focus. The line joining the planet
to the sun sweeps out equal areas in equal times and, the square of the period of a planet is
proportional to the cube of its mean distance to the sun.
Orbit of the satellite is known as Keplerian, i.e. orbit is an ellipse with earth at one of the
foci, where:
Assumptions are:
Earth is a point mass or equivalently a sphere with uniform density so the attraction is
toward center
Mass of the satellite is negligible
Satellite moves in a vacuum
Exceptions:
Gravity field variation, attraction of sun, moon and other planets
Atmospheric drag and solar radiation pressure
Relativistic effects etc.

Figure 1 : Coordinate system in the orbital plane.

KEPLERIAN ELEMENT

There are 6 types of elements in determining the orbit. It is called the satellite orbital element
known as Keplerian Element (named after Johann Kepler (1571-1630). In the Keplerian, satellite
orbiting the ellipse is the shape and orientation of the equipment. The Earth is at one focus of the
ellipse and not in the middle (but when the elliptical orbit is a complete circle).
A normal orbit is completely given by the following keplerian orbital elements, see figures
1)
2)
3)
4)
5)
6)

Semi-major axis (a) = size


Inclination ( ) = tilt
Eccentricity ( e ) = shape
Longitude of ascending node ( ) = pin
Argument of periapsis ( ) = twist
Mean anomaly ( M )or (v) = angle

Figure 2: Shows the Keplerian orbit parameters


The first four elements describe the size, shape, and orientation of the orbit. The fifth element
along with an angular quantity called anomaly determines the position of the satellite in its orbit
at any instant. Keplerian element can be obtained from orbital state vectors using software or
calculation directly.
1.1

Six Keplerins Element Explanation

1. Semi major axis (a)


The distance between the centers of the bodies, not the distance of the bodies from the
center of the mass
2. Inclination ( i )
Inclination is the angular distance between the satellite's orbit and equator. Elliptical orbit
is a flat area known as the orbital plane. This habit orbital plane through directly into the
center of the earth but will slightly tilt at any angle relative to the equator. Inclination is
the angle between the orbital plane and the equatorial plane.
Normally, the inclination is a number between 0 and 180 degrees. For orbit with
inclination close to 0 is called the equatorial orbit (this is because the satellite passed over
the north and south poles). Crossing the equatorial plane and the orbital plane is a line
called the line of nodes.

Figure 3: inclination
3. Eccentricity ( e )
In the Keplerian orbit model, the satellite orbit is elliptical. Eccentricity is more about the
shape of an ellipse. When the value of e = 0, the ellipse is a circle. When the value of e
approaches 1, the ellipse will be a very long and thin.

Figure 4 : eccentricity and major axis

4. Longitude of ascending node ( )


After the inclination described in more detail, there is still no orbital plane can be
calculated. 'Line of nodes' can come at any point along the equator. If it is found at the
equator where the 'line of nodes' come off, then the orbital plane can be specified.
Arguably, it going off at 2 locations, so we only need to specify one only. One of
the called as 'ascending nodes' where the satellite will cross the equator from south to
north. For the other, it is called as 'descending node' where the satellite will cross the
equator from north to south. Normally, the 'ascending nodes' will be specified.
If the earth in a state of spin, this means we cannot use the usual method of
latitude or longitude coordinate system to specify the location of the 'line of nodes.
Conversely, we can also use an astronomical coordinate system, known also as the right
ascension / declination where it does not rotates with the earth. 'Right ascension of
ascending node' is the angle, measured from the midpoint of the earth, from the 'vernal
equinox' to the ascending node.

Figure 5 : Longitude of ascending node

5. Argument of Perigee ( )
Also known as the Argument of Periapsis. In addition, it is preferable to specify a corner.
The point where the satellite is closer to the earth is called perigee, or also called
periapsis. While the farthest point from the earth is called apogee. When we draw a line
from perigee to apogee, this line is called the line of apsides. Line of apsides through the
center of the earth and another line through the center of the earth, as it is known the line
of nodes.
The angle between two lines is known as argument of perigee. When two lines
intersect, they form two additional angles. To more clearly, we can say that argument of
perigee is the angle of the ascending node to the perigee.

Figure 6 : Argument of Perigee

6. Mean anomaly ( M ) or ( v )
Mean anomaly is an angle that moves uniformly in time from 0 to 360 degrees in the
rotation. This defines that 0 degrees is at perigee and apogee of 180 degrees. Mean
nomaly is a pure mathematical quantity given below by Keplers equation:
M = E - e sin E
If the satellite is in a circular orbit (moving at a constant speed) and viewed on the center
of the earth and measuring the angle from perigee, this will be reflected towards the
satellite. Satellite in orbit is not a circle that moves at the speed of uneven, then the
relationship will not last. This relationship will remain for 2 main point in orbit, however,
regardless of eccentricity. Usually the perigee will appear on the Mean Anomaly = 0, and
apogee also appeared in Mean Anomaly = 180 degrees.

COMPUTATION OF SATELLITE POSITIONING IN ORBIT USING


KEPLERIAN ELEMENT

The position of the satellite must be corrected for the extraneous effects stated earlier. Satellite
ephemeris just as solar or star ephemeris like an Almanac, it contain information about the
location of a satellite at any given time. As the orbit of a satellite is not quite Keplerian, its
location can only be predicted from the information collected by tracking its orbit constantly.
In the case of positioning satellites, ephemeris information consists of Keplerian
parameters at a certain epoch, rate of change of these elements, clock information and clock
correction terms. Accurate ephemeris information is required for locating precise positions on
earth using the signals from satellites
For this reason, all positioning satellites include ephemeris information in its signal sent to earth
Satellite Coordinates Computation.
Table 1 provides the GPS or Galileo broadcast ephemeris parameters to compute their satellite
coordinates at any observation epoch. These parameters are periodically renewed (typically
every hours for GPS and

hours for Galileo) and must not be used out of the prescribed time

(about four hours), because the extrapolation error grows exponentially beyond its validity
period. The algorithm provided is from the GPS/SPS-SS. The Galileo satellites follow a similar
scheme

Table 1: Ephemeris Parameters


In order to compute satellite coordinates from navigation message, the algorithm provided as
follows must be used. An accuracy of about meters (RMS) is achieved for GPS satellites with
S/A=0ff and several tens of meters with S/A=on.
Compute the time

from the ephemerides reference epoch

( and

are expressed in

seconds in the GPS week):

If

sec, subtract

sec from . If

sec, add

sec.

Compute the mean anomaly for ,


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Solve (iteratively) the Kepler equation for the eccentricity anomaly

Compute the true anomaly

Compute the argument of latitude


and corrections

and

from the argument of perigee

Compute the radial distance , considering corrections

Compute the inclination

, true anomaly

, and corrections

and

of the orbital plane from the inclination


and

at reference time

Compute the longitude of the ascending node

(with respect to Greenwich). This

calculation uses the right ascension at the beginning of the current week (

), the
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correction from the apparent sidereal time variation in Greenwich between the beginning
of the week and reference time
ascending node from the reference time

, and the change in longitude of the


:

Compute the coordinates in TRS frame, applying three rotations (around

Where

and

and

):

are the rotation matrices defined in Transformation between

Terrestrial Frames.
Transformation between Terrestrial Frames

From elemental linear algebra, all transformations between two Cartesian coordinate
systems can be decomposed in a shift vector
, three
consecutive rotations around the coordinate axes ( , , ), and a scale factor ( ). That
is, they can be described by the following equation, which involves 7 parameters:

where:

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Adopting the convention used by IERS, the previous equation (1) can be written as
follows:

Where , ,
are three translation parameters,
and
are three rotation angles.

is a scale factor and

Referring to; Transformation parameters from ITRF2000 to past ITRFs are listed in table 4.1 of
IERS Conventions (2003) [Denis et al., 2004]

Keplerian motion
1. Broadcast ephemerides (in GPS
signal) contain orbital parameters M,
e, a, , i, , n (=angular velocity)
2. Orbital parameters used to compute
orbit in inertial frame
3. Orbit in inertial frame (Earth rotating)
is rotated to terrestrial frame (Earth
fixed)
4. In order to do this accurately over
long time periods, one need to know
UT1, notations, and polar motion.

Fig. T. Herring (MIT):

frame

GPS orbit, Earth-fixed

5. And take into account orbit


perturbations (Earths gravity field, solar
pressure, attraction from Sun and
Moon): also provided in broadcast
ephemerides

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