Vol 21, No 7

A new method for resolving phase ambiguity in radio interferometry using Earth rotation synthesis

Huan Zhou, De-Zhen Xu, Jian-Guo Yan, Shao-Wu Chen, Hai-Tao Li


Abstract As a key technique in deep space navigation, radio interferometry can be used to determine the accurate location of a spacecraft in the plane-of-sky by measuring its signal propagation time delay between two remote stations. To improve the measurement accuracy, differential phase delay without phase ambiguity is usually desired. Aiming at the difficulties of resolving phase ambiguity with few stations and narrowband downlink signals, a new method is proposed in this work by taking advantage of the Earth rotation. The high accurate differential phase delay between the spacecraft and a calibrator can be achieved not only in the in-beam observation mode but also in the out-of-beam observation mode. In this paper we firstly built the model of phase ambiguity resolution. Then, main measurement errors of the model are analyzed, which is followed by tests and validations of the model and method using the tracking data of the Cassini mission and Chang’E-3 mission. The results show that the phase ambiguities can be correctly resolved to generate a 10-picosecond level accuracy differential phase delay. Angular measurement accuracy of the Cassini reaches the milli-arc-second level, and the relative position accuracy between the Chang’E-3 rover and lander reaches the meter level.


Keywords radio interferometry — Earth rotation synthesis — phase ambiguity — differential phase delay — Cassini mission — Chang’E-3 mission

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