EGU22-2477, updated on 28 Nov 2023
EGU General Assembly 2022
© Author(s) 2023. This work is distributed under
the Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 License.

Contribution of the Galileo system to space geodesy and fundamental physics

Krzysztof Sośnica, Radosław Zajdel, Grzegorz Bury, Kamil Kazmierski, Tomasz Hadaś, Marcin Mikoś, Maciej Lackowski, and Dariusz Strugarek
Krzysztof Sośnica et al.
  • Wroclaw University of Environmental and Life Sciences, Institute of Geodesy and Geoinformatics, Wroclaw, Poland (

Although the full operational capability of the Galileo system has not been officially announced as yet, the European GNSS, Galileo, has already remarkably contributed to geodesy, positioning, navigation, timing, and fundamental physics. Galileo metadata with the details on the satellite construction and surface properties allow for the development of the high-accuracy satellite macro-models and precise orbit determination. Two integrated onboard observation techniques – satellite laser ranging (SLR) and microwave GNSS – allow for the integration of space geodetic techniques and co-location in space. Calibrated satellite and receiver antenna offsets allow for scale realization and scale transfer for the reference frames.

GNSS orbits of superior quality constitute the basis for other geodetic products, such as Earth rotation parameters, station coordinates, geocenter motion, international terrestrial reference frames, tropospheric and ionospheric delays. Moreover, the high-quality orbits and clocks installed on a pair of Galileo satellites launched onto eccentric orbits allow for studying effects emerging from general relativity, both related to the time redshift, as well as to orbital Schwarzschild, Lense-Thirring, and de Sitter effects constituting the essential issues of fundamental physics. Finally, high-quality and frequently-updated broadcast orbits together with very stable clocks onboard Galileo assure the superior accuracy of the real-time positioning when compared to other GNSS.

We discuss the advantages and limitations of the Galileo system in terms of its applicability to geodesy, concentrating on daily and sub-daily Earth rotation parameters – polar motion and length-of-day variability, station coordinates, and geocenter motion. We address the system-specific errors discovered in GPS, GLONASS, and Galileo time series due to different satellite revolution periods, aliasing effects, tidal constituents, and orbit modeling issues. Some orbit modeling issues related, e.g., to thermal effects, remain unresolved, however, their impact may be mitigated by estimating empirical parameters and the combination of laser and microwave observations. The co-location in space onboard Galileo paves new opportunities for the realization of the reference frames tied in space, onboard GNSS satellites. We provide results on the recent developments of precise orbit determination and co-location in space based on integrated SLR and GNSS observations. Eventually, we discuss the latest applications of high-accurate orbits of Galileo satellites in near-circular and eccentric orbits toward the verification of the effects emerging from general relativity.

How to cite: Sośnica, K., Zajdel, R., Bury, G., Kazmierski, K., Hadaś, T., Mikoś, M., Lackowski, M., and Strugarek, D.: Contribution of the Galileo system to space geodesy and fundamental physics, EGU General Assembly 2022, Vienna, Austria, 23–27 May 2022, EGU22-2477,, 2022.


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