GLONASS-R: GNSS reflectometry with a Frequency Division Multiple Access-based satellite navigation system



The information from reflected Global Navigation Satellite System (GNSS) signals can become a valuable data source, from which geophysical properties can be deduced. This approach, called GNSS Reflectometry (GNSS-R), can be used to develop instruments that act like an altimeter when arrival times of direct and reflected signals are compared. Current GNSS-R systems usually entirely rely on signals from the Global Positioning Service (GPS), and field experiments could demonstrate that information from such systems can measure sea level with an accuracy of a few centimeters. However, the usage of the Russian GLONASS system has the potential to simplify the processing scheme and to allow handling of direct and reflected signals like a bistatic radar. Thus, such a system has been developed and deployed for test purposes at the Onsala Space Observatory, Sweden, that has an operational GPS-based GNSS-R system. Over a period of 2 weeks in October 2013, GPS-based GNSS-R sea level monitoring and measurements with the newly developed GLONASS-R system were carried out in parallel. In addition, data from colocated tide gauge measurements were available for comparison. It can be shown that precision and accuracy of the GLONASS-based GNSS-R system is comparable to, or even better than, conventional GPS-based GNSS-R solutions. Moreover, the simplicity of the newly developed GLONASS-R system allows to make it a cheap and valuable tool for various remote sensing applications.