Wide Area RTK: A satellite navigation system based on precise real-time ionospheric modelling



[1] The Wide Area Real Time Kinematic (WARTK) is an augmentation system concept for multi-frequency users based on precise real-time ionospheric modeling. It is able to provide a high accuracy and integrity GNSS positioning service over continental areas using the infrastructure of a network of permanent ground monitor stations, such as the European Geostationary Navigation Overlay Service (EGNOS) network of Ranging and Integrity Monitoring Stations (RIMS) in Europe. In this way, it allows an additional benefit to be obtained from these reference stations, that is, the network has the potential to support two independent systems: a satellite-based augmentation system, such as EGNOS, and a high-precision positioning service, based on WARTK. Indeed, thanks to the accuracy of the ionospheric corrections provided, WARTK users have available in real-time an extra constraint per satellite between the carrier phase ambiguities, which helps solve them quickly. Once such ambiguities have been solved, the GNSS user obtains navigation accurate to within 20 cm at the 95th percentile (about 10 cm RMS). Moreover, this precise positioning is achieved in a few minutes (with two frequency signals) or in a single epoch, after initial convergence of the tropospheric delay (with three frequency signals), even up to hundreds of kilometers away from the nearest reference station. While previous WARTK research has been devoted to implementing the concept and assessing its feasibility, considering in particular the accuracy achievable, the work reported in this paper focused on consolidating the results by analyzing a large and representative data set, and on deeper analysis of the integrity issue. It was carried out in the context of the Multi-constellation Regional System (MRS) project, within the European Space Agency GNSS Evolution Programme, with the aim of designing a high accuracy service for GPS and/or Galileo. Three months of actual data, from more than 25 permanent GPS stations in Europe, have been processed (some of them as a roving user), for high-, mid- and low-solar cycle conditions (in 2002, 2004 and 2006 respectively). In addition, several ionospheric storms occurred during the selected periods, withDstvalues reaching up to −150 nT. Results based on these data show that user domain integrity was maintained for baselines of up to 400 km. At the 95th percentile, the daily horizontal and vertical position errors were 20 and 30 cm, respectively, and the corresponding protection levels were about 1 and 2 m. The convergence time was around 5 minutes with actual GPS constellation data. The benefits of using a multi-constellation system were also studied, with simulated GPS and three-frequency Galileo data, showing that it is possible to reduce the convergence time to a few seconds.