Presently, the GNSS research program of the ROB comprises the following topics:
- Integration of Belgium in international geodetic networks. In order to achieve this goal, the ROB installed in Belgium a network of permanent GNSS receiver stations. In addition to the processing of our own data, we also process the data originating from international GNSS networks.
- Determination of slow ground deformations using GNSS measurements (Study of local and regional tectonics)
- Study of the error sources affecting high precision GNSS positioning.
- Study of the effect of the atmospheric (ionospheric and tropospheric) refraction on the GNSS signal propagation and the errors induced on the GNSS observations.
- Monitoring of the Earth's atmosphere (Ionosphere and troposphere)
- Integration of Belgium in the international network used for the realization of UTC (Universal Time Coordinated), using our atomic clocks linked to the network through GNSS measurements.
We participate to the following programs/projects:
EUREF is the IAG (International Association of Geodesy) Reference Frame Sub-Commission for Europe and deals
with the definition, realization and maintenance of the European Reference Frame
- the geodetic infrastructure for multinational projects requiring precise geo-referencing -
in close cooperation with the IAG components (Services, Commissions, and
Inter-commission projects) and EuroGeographics, the consortium of the National Mapping Agencies
(NMA) in Europe. EUREF has been developing a set of activities related to the establishment
and maintenance of European Terrestrial Reference System (ETRS89) and
European Vertical Reference System (EVRS). A key instrument in maintaining ETRS89 is the
EUREF Permanent Network (EPN), a network of
continuous observing GNSS stations covering the European continent.
The GNSS team of ROB contributes to the EPN with four of its permanent GNSS stations. In addition, it hosts the Central Bureau of the EPN, maintains its historical data archive, operates one of the EPN data processing centers, and is reponsible for the computation of the official ETRS89 coordinates of the EPN stations.
International GNSS Service:
The International GNSS Service (IGS),
is a voluntary federation of more than 200 worldwide agencies that
pool resources and permanent GPS & GLONASS station data to generate precise
GPS & GLONASS products. The IGS is committed to providing the highest quality
data and products as the standard for GNSS
in support of Earth science research, multidisciplinary applications, and education.
You can think of the IGS as the highest-precision international civilian GPS community.
The GNSS team of ROB participates to the IGS with its GNSS reference station located at the ROB premisis and also contributes to the IGS governance and development of its network infrastructure.
EPOS stands for European Plate Observing System. EPOS
integrates European Research Infrastructures for solid Earth science to monitor and understand the dynamic and complex solid-Earth System. It brings together Earth scientists, national research infrastructures, ICT (Information & Communication Technology) experts, decision makers, and the public to develop new concepts and tools for accurate, durable, and sustainable answers to societal questions concerning geo-hazards and those geodynamic phenomena (including geo-resources) relevant to the environment and human welfare. EPOS provides its user community access to various kinds of data using one common integrated portal.
From 2018 on, EPOS will be operated under a European Research Infrastructure Consortium (ERIC), which will be the legal entity representing EPOS. Presently EPOS is still in its construction phase, which is supported by the H2020 project EPOS-IP to which ROB participates.
Within EPOS-IP, the GNSS team of ROB contributes to the development of the GNSS component of EPOS. This GNSS component organises open access to GNSS data, meta-data, and products in support of the Solid Earth Sciences.
Solar Terrestrial Centre of Excellence:
The Solar-Terrestrial Center of Excellence
is a scientific project which aims to create an international expert
center for Solar and Solar-Terrestrial research and services.
The STCE clusters the know-how of three Belgian Federal institutes: Royal Observatory of
Belgium (ROB), Royal Meteorological Institute (RMI) and Belgian Institute for Space Aeronomy (BISA).
to study the relation between the Sun and the Earth.
The GNSS team of ROB participates to the STCE by maintaining a GNSS observation infrastructure and monitoring the Earth's troposphere and ionosphere.
EUMETNET - E-GVAP:
The EUMETNET GPS water VApour Program (E-GVAP) is a program running under the aegis of the European Network of Meteorological Service (EUMETNET). This project has been setup to collect near real-time (NRT) ground-based GNSS tropospheric delay and water vapour estimates on the European scale. This information is provided this information to EUMETNET partners for operational meteorology. The ultimate goal of the project is to improve weather forecasts. This is achieved in close collaboration with the geodetic community who operate the 11 analysis centres that provides the NRT tropospheric delay estimates. ROB is one of these GNSS analysis centres. This is done in close collaboration with the geodetic community in Europe.
The basis of the legal time in the world is UTC, the Universal Time Coordinated. It is computed by the BIPM from a weighted average of atomic clocks distributed around the world; five of these clocks are located in the time laboratory of the ROB. The clocks of the different laboratories are compared using GNSS. The research developed at the ROB aims to improve the precision of this comparsion technique in order to be able to compare the most precise atomic clocks in the world. The ROB also provides for Belgium a realization of UTC, named UTC(ORB), which is therefore the most precise time for Belgium and which is disseminated via the Internet (NTP).