Antenna-induced biases in GNSS receivers May 17, 2007

May 17, 2007  - By

By Inder Jeet Gupta

It is well known that the phase center of a GNSS antenna can vary with the satellite direction. This phase center movement leads to aspect dependent carrier phase and code phase biases in the satellite signal. For precise geo-location, one needs to characterize the antenna-induced carrier and code phase biases over the upper hemisphere. In the case of fixed pattern antennas (the antenna pattern does not vary with the incident signal environment) one can characterize the antenna induced biases a priori and use the data for corrections in the field. This is a standard practice in the surveying community.

For antennas used with AJ (Anti-Jam) systems, however, a priori characterization of the antenna induced biases may not be of much value. These antennas consist of multiple elements. The signals received by various antenna elements are weighted and then summed together to form the composite output signal. The element weights depend on the incident signal (mainly interfering signal) scenario. As the incident signal scenario changes so do the individual antenna element weights which in turn will lead to different values for antenna induced carrier phase and code phase biases.

As illustration, Figure 1 shows the antenna induced code phase bias of an AJ antenna over the upper hemisphere in the absence of all interfering signals as well as in the presence of two interfering signals.

Figure 1. Antenna induced code phase bias (in meters) over the upper hemisphere. Left: no interfering signal; right: two interfering signals.

In the figure, the center of the circle corresponds to the zenith and the outer ring corresponds to the horizon. The antenna induced code phase bias is plotted using a color scale in meters. Note that even in the absence of interfering signals, the antenna induced bias varies with the aspect angle. The presence of the interfering signals affects the antenna induced biases. This is true in the angular region surrounding the interfering signals as well as in the angular region away from the interfering signals.

One can observe this more clearly in Figure 2 where the difference between the antenna induced code phase biases in the absence of interfering signals and in the presence of interfering signals is plotted using a color scale in centimeters. Note that the difference in the antenna induced code phase bias is quite significant, and one may not be able to obtain precise location without proper corrections.

Figure 2. Difference (in cm) between the antenna-induced code phase bias in the presence of two interfering signals and in the absence of the interfering signals.

The question is what could be done to minimize the effects of adaptive antenna induced biases in GNSS receivers. In my opinion, one can take the following two approaches. In the first approach (see reference), one predicts the antenna-induced biases on the fly. This approach requires knowledge of in situ volumetric patterns of individual elements of an AJ antenna over the bandwidth of GNSS signals as well as access to the antenna element weights. With a perfect knowledge of these quantities, one can come up with a very good prediction and can correct for the antenna induced biases. The sensitivity of the prediction to various parameters, however, needs to be studied.

The second approach would be to develop novel weighting algorithms for GPS receiver adaptive antennas. Note that the current algorithms are mostly designed to either steer nulls in the interfering signal directions or maximize carrier to noise ratio in some sense. These novel algorithms should not only lead to improved carrier to noise ratio in the presence of interfering signals but should also make sure that the antenna-induced biases do not vary from their values in the absence of all interfering signals.

Further, these algorithms should not use many degrees of freedom to meet the various constraints in that GNSS AJ antennas do not have many degrees of freedom. If most of the degrees of freedom are consumed to meet the above constraints then one will not have enough degrees of freedom left to null the interfering signals. This is a very challenging task, but leads to a good research problem!

Inder J. Gupta

Ohio State University

References

I.J. Gupta, et. al., Prediction of antenna and antenna electronics induced biases in GNSS receivers, Proceedings of ION 2007 National Technical Meeting, San Diego, CA, January 2007.

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