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A Guide to Using the IGS Products



Since 1994, the International GNSS Service (IGS) has provided precise GPS orbit products to the scientific community with increased precision and timeliness. Many national geodetic agencies and GNSS (Global Navigation Satellite System) users interested in geodetic positioning have adopted the IGS precise orbits to achieve centimeter level accuracy and ensure long-term reference frame stability.

Relative positioning approaches that require the combination of observations from a minimum of two GNSS receivers, with at least one occupying a station with known coordinates are commonly used. The user position can then be estimated relative to one or multiple reference stations, using differenced carrier phase observations and a baseline or network estimation approach. Differencing observations is a popular way to eliminate common GNSS satellite and receiver clock errors. Baseline or network processing is effective in connecting the user position to the coordinates of the reference stations while the precise orbit virtually eliminates the errors introduced by the GNSS space segment.

One drawback is the practical constraint imposed by the requirement that simultaneous observations be made at reference stations. An alternative post-processing approach uses un-differenced dual-frequency pseudorange and carrier phase observations along with IGS precise orbit products, for stand-alone precise geodetic point positioning (static or kinematic) with centimeter precision. This is possible if one takes advantage of the satellite clock estimates available with the satellite coordinates in the IGS precise orbit/clock products and models systematic effects that cause centimeter variations in the satellite to user range. Furthermore, station tropospheric zenith path delays with mm precision and GNSS receiver clock estimates precise to 0.03 nanosecond are also obtained. To achieve the highest accuracy and consistency, users must also implement the GNSS-specific conventions and models adopted by the IGS.

This paper describes both post-processing approaches, summarizes the adjustment procedure and specifies the Earth and space based models and conventions that must be implemented to achieve mm-cm level positioning, tropospheric zenith path delay and clock solutions.



Jan Kouba
Geodetic Survey Division
Natural Resources Canada
615 Booth Street
Ottawa, Ontario K1A 0E9
Email: kouba @


Download the entire paper here.

Last Updated September 2015