Nickola, M., Krasna, H., de Witt, A., Combrinck, L., & Böhm, J. (2023). Hartebeesthoek Radio Astronomy Observatory (HartRAO) antenna axis offset determined by geodetic VLBI analysis and ground survey. South African Journal of Geomatics, 12(1), 98–111. https://doi.org/10.4314/sajg.v12i1.7
In the Very Long Baseline Interferometry (VLBI) space geodetic technique, various station-specific error sources corrupt the observable VLBI delay. An antenna axis offset (AO) model is applied in the VLBI data analysis for antennas with non-intersecting rotational axes, such as the 26-m and 15-m antennas for the Hartebeesthoek Radio Astronomy Observatory (HartRAO). The a priori AO values recommended by the International VLBI Service for Geodesy and Astrometry (IVS) for use in geodetic VLBI data analysis are taken, where possible, from values measured in ground surveys. The a priori AO values used for the HartRAO antennas in geodetic VLBI analysis have been identified as possible sources of error. The a priori AO value of 6695.3 mm for the 26-m antenna originates from a 2003 co-locational ground survey, conducted before a major bearing repair in 2008, which could have changed the AO. The a priori AO value of 1495.0 mm for the 15-m antenna was determined in 2007 in only a preliminary GPS survey. In this study, the respective AO values of the HartRAO 26-m and 15-m antennas were estimated from a VLBI analysis using the Vienna VLBI and Satellite Software (VieVS) and compared with measurements from co-locational ground surveys. It was found that the VLBI estimated values do not agree within the formal margins of error with the ground survey values, in that they differ by up to eight millimetres (8 mm) for the 26-m antenna and up to five millimetres (5 mm) for the 15-m antenna. As the ground survey values are considered to be more accurate than the VLBI estimated values, a further investigation of the site-specific error sources that may be contaminating the accuracy of VLBI results is required.
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