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Improving two-way satellite time and frequency transfer with redundant links for UTC generation.

26.08.2019

Two-way satellite time and frequency transfer (TWSTFT) is a primary technique for the generation of coordinated universal time (UTC). At present, more than 12 timing laboratories around the world use SAtellite Time and Ranging Equipment (SATRE) modems in TWSTFT operations and contribute data for the realization of UTC. The advantages of TWSTFT are its small calibration uncertainty (≤1.0 ns if the link is calibrated with a TWSTFT mobile station) and its long-term link stability. However, the precision of SATRE TWSTFT in the operational networks is degraded by a daily variation pattern (diurnal) in the TWSTFT results. The diurnal with varying amplitude appears virtually in all SATRE TWSTFT links. The observed peak-to-peak variation of the diurnals can reach 2.0 ns in some cases. So far, studies on the sources of the diurnal have not provided conclusive understanding of the diurnal's dominant origin.

Therefore, efforts have been made to reduce the impact of the diurnal variation in TWSTFT for UTC computation. The BIPM has been using the combination of SATRE TWSTFT results and GPS carrier-phase precise point positioning solutions (GPSPPP) for UTC computation since 2010. The combination adjusts the GPSPPP results to long-term averages of TWSTFT and is effectively free from the diurnal variations because the GPSPPP results contain almost no diurnal. Lately, the use of software-defined radio receivers (SDR) in TWSTFT has shown one way of how to reduce the diurnal variations by a factor of two to three in most of the inner-continental SATRE TWSTFT links, and furthermore, how the short-term stability for all UTC SDR TWSTFT links can be improved. In addition, there has been research on the full use of the redundancy in the TWSTFT network to improve the TWSTFT link stability. Recent studies on evaluating indirect links revealed that it is possible to apply a simplified procedure to use the redundancy, in a most effective way, to reduce the diurnal variations in the Europe-to-Europe SATRE TWSTFT links by a factor of two to three. Based on these findings, we gained new insights about the diurnals and its dominant origin(s) which are discussed in this paper. The methods of the combination of SATRE TWSTFT and GPSPPP as well as the indirect SATRE TWSTFT links utilize the redundancy in the UTC time transfer network. SDR TWSTFT can largely reduce the diurnal in SATRE TWSTFT, but noticeable residual diurnal remains. In this paper, we provide the analyses of using the combination of SDR TWSTFT and GPSPPP results, as well as using the indirect SDR TWSTFT links. This paper concludes that the use of SDR TWSTFT redundant links can further improve the stabilities of UTC TWSTFT links. In addition, the use of SDR TWSTFT indirect links is a pure TWSTFT solution. The independence of the TWSTFT results to GPS results can improve the robustness of UTC computation.

Jiang, Zhiheng; BIPM, Bureau International des Poids et Mesures, Sévres, FRANCE
Zhang, Victor; NIST, National Institute of Standards and Technology, Boulder, CO, USA
Parker, Thomas E.; NIST, National Institute of Standards and Technology, Boulder, CO, USA
Petit, Gérard; BIPM, Bureau International des Poids et Mesures, Sévres, FRANCE
Huang, Yi-Jiun; TL, National Standard Time and Frequency Laboratory, Telecommunication Laboratories, Chunghwa Telecom, CHINESE TAIPEI
Piester, Dirk; 4.4, Zeit und Frequenz, PTB-Braunschweig
Achkar, Joseph; OP, LNE-SYRTE, Observatoire de Paris, Université PSL, CNRS, Sorbonne Université, Paris, FRANCE