POST PROCESSING OF GPS DATA

Key Words: RINEX, Geoid Models, Orthometric Height,
Ellipsoidal Height, Baseline Solution, Normal
Section, RMS Error, Reference Variance, Quality
Factor Ratio, Float Solution, Fixed Solution, Network
Adjustment, Minimally Constrained Adjustment,
Fully Constrained Adjustment, Error Ellipses
GPS equipment vendors/manufacturers usually provide postprocessing software with their equipment

It is generally not possible to process data collected by receivers of
one manufacturer with software from other vendors/manufacturers

If this needs to be done, the data must be collected by using
RINEX format and the software should be able to process RINEX
data

Post processing software includes modules, in general, for



Mission planning
Download(and upload) data files to and from the
receivers or other data collection devices such as TDC1
Baseline computation
Network adjustment

this is especially important if the project is far away from the regular office . Each manufacturer may have a unique file naming convention.They may also include • Some utilities such as database management and graphics • State plane coordinate computations on NAD27 and NAD83 • Coordinate transformations • Geoid models to compute orthometric heights It is a good practice to download data to a computer and make backups at the end of the day Receivers usually creates a separate data file for each GPS session There are also other files created for broadcast ephemeris. Julian day (Day number of the year) and GPS session number on that day Some data processing can be done in the field using portable computers to ensure the integrity of data. but generally consists of station ID (or receiver serial number). etc. ionospheric correction data and other information pertaining to the session such as satellites tracked and cycle slips.

File editing and error checking is one of the most important preprocessing tasks. this includes checking and correcting station names and antenna heights by cross referencing with station logs Baseline Processing After the data editing. data can be processed to compute baselines between points Most software allows the user to compute all possible baselines or only the independent ones Coordinates of control points could also be input at this time. control point coordinates are not important at this stage Baseline processing software usually computes the following • Baseline vector components in WGS84 Cartesian coordinate system • Baseline length • Normal section azimuth • Ellipsoidal height difference . azimuth and height difference are important for error checking. but this can also be done when adjusting the network in a static survey Since only the baseline components such as length.

this solution may be used Double difference float solution is obtained after fixing cycle slips but the integer bias is still not determined exactly Most favorable solution is the double difference fixed solution which is generated after a successful determination of integer ambiguities A fixed solution may not be possible if the occupation time is too short. 60 km. especially because cycle slips have not been taken into consideration but for very long baselines. namely triple difference solution.g. e. or longer.Baseline solution also computes the latitude and longitude of the second point by holding the latitude and longitude of one point to the values determined by the receiver or input by user There are three types of baseline of solutions. noise in data or there are too many cycle slips . double difference float solution and double difference fixed solution the meaning of which will be discussed in a later section Triple difference solution is generated by eliminating the integer bias factor but is not very accurate.

loop closure checks can be made to isolate problematic baselines . software also generates the following which indicate the quality of the solution • Reference variance of the least squares solution and RMS error of the baseline length • Quality Factor Ratio The reference variance shows the goodness of fit of data to the mathematical model used in the least squares solution and a value close to 1 is expected Root mean Square (RMS) error represents some average residual size and smaller the RMS value is more precise the baseline components are Quality factor ratio is the ratio of the reference variances of second best fixed solution the best fixed solution. a high number is preferable Baseline solutions should be examined to make sure that they are acceptable and meet the project requirements If problematic baselines are found.Along with baseline lengths. the cause should be found or it should be re-observed If baseline vectors are in a network.

if available. no loop closure checks are possible Checks can be built in by using multiple base stations Network Adjustment Most control networks are surveyed by static method and an adjustment of the network must be done after the computation of baselines and quality control checks Recall that quality control checks include checking the solution type. and therefore.This is similar to checking the linear closure in a loop traverse The baseline vectors forming loops must come from different sessions The closure can be indicated as an absolute value as well as a ratio as in a closed traverse Kinematic GPS surveys produce radial lines from a base station. and loop closure checks . reference variance and quality factor ratio.

the outcome of chi-square test is checked if the Least Squares adjustment of the net is acceptable. not enough redundant baselines • problematic baseline(s).All baselines determined to be problematic should be removed from the adjustment Redundant baselines are needed not only to do a meaningful adjustment but also to be able to remove all suspect baselines The first adjustment called minimally constrained adjustment only uses one point as fixed This point may or may not be a control point but all three coordinate values. that is two coordinate values to fix horizontal position and one value to fix vertical position must be used Minimally constrained adjustment helps further isolate problematic vectors and check internal inconsistencies of the net First. that is. measurement outliers • improper weighting or setup errors such as antenna centering and antenna height measurement errors Geometry/Degree of Freedom is a network design issue and must be corrected by perhaps measuring additional baselines . Failure of this statistical test is an indication of one or more of the following • weaker network geometry/low degree of freedom. that is.

bad baseline(s) can be disabled and a new adjustment can be done without them If there are no flagged baselines and the chi-square test has failed. change the weighting strategy by changing the scaling factor of weights Chi-squared test is a statistical test performed on the a posteriori reference variance (variance of unit weight) that is dependent on . the largest acceptable residual (critical Tau value) could be computed A histogram of standardized residuals can also be if prepared by the software Baselines with standardized residuals larger than the critical Tua vales are considered outliers Most adjustment software usually flag these baselines If there is sufficient redundancy in the adjustment.Problematic baselines can often be detected by examining the standardized residuals of length. azimuth and difference in ellipsoid height Based on the distribution of residuals of the data set used in the adjustment and the expected level of confidence.

above can be corrected by applying a scalar factor to all weights to bring residuals in line with estimated errors . weights applied and the degree of freedom of the adjustment Realize that the weights applied to observations depend on the estimated observation errors and in turn the size of residuals depend on the weights applied to observations As the residuals of observations are expected to be equal to the estimated error. the chi square test will pass even if the variance of unit weight is slightly more or less than one The reason for very large variance of unit weight is underestimating the measurement errors (large weights) or blunders in observations (large residuals) or both This is generally the case in most GPS network adjustments as weight are based on the baseline processing and the estimated baseline component errors are generally small If there are no bad baselines.the size of residuals. the expected value of the reference variance is one This seldom is the case as it is very difficult to estimate measurement errors accurately Depending on the degree of freedom and the expected confidence level.

the error ellipses can be checked to find points where coordinates have large standard deviations If there are redundant vector to such a point. problem vector(s) can be isolated by removing/adding vectors one at a time and readjusting the net If minimally constrained adjustment is successful.If the minimally constrained adjustment is acceptable. fully constrained adjustment is performed by entering the coordinates of all fixed (existing control) points and running the adjustment again Fully constrained adjustment is to fit all the observations to all the control points that will be held fixed Results of the fully constrained adjustment too should be examined for its validity just like the minimally constrained adjustment If problems are detected. most probable cause may be that the coordinates of one or more fixed control points may be in error If fully constrained adjustment also passes Chi-square test and if all standardized residuals are below the critical Tau value. the error ellipses should be checked again to ensure that size and distribution of coordinate errors are acceptable .

and will be discussed in a later section . the FGCC guidelines should be strictly followed for field data collection as well as for processing.Error ellipses indicate a confidence region for the actual position of the point around the computed position The confidence level used is generally 95% Most post-processing software allow computation of geodetic coordinates (latitude. if more accurate elevations are required. longitude) or state plane coordinates directly Routines are also available for transforming coordinates into local systems Nature of GPS surveys is such that the adjustment is always done in 3-D space even if the user is only interested in 2-D coordinates Approximate elevations (orthometric heights) of points can be computed by applying geoid heights to geodetic (ellipsoidal) heights determined by GPS Post processing software can covert all geodetic heights to orthometric heights if a geoid model such as GEOID99 is available in the database However.

2. 6. What is ‘minimally constrained’ network adjustment ? 14. 8. 4. what other quantities/values are available after a baseline solution ? 13. What are the reasons for a bad baseline solution ? 12. In addition to baseline length.QUESTIONS 1. What is the primary object of post processing of GPS data ? What quantities are computed by post processing software ? Why is it important to edit GPS data prior to post processing ? What quantities/values are most likely to be in error in a GPS data file ? What information could be extracted from the name of a GPS data files ? In addition to measurements. 5. What information do the error ellipses convey ? . Why is a minimally constrained adjustment done first ? 15. 9. what other information is available in GPS data file ? What types of solutions are generated by post processing software ? Why is one type baseline solution preferred to other solutions ? What quality factors are generated by baseline computation software and what does each of them indicate ? 10. What are the methods used for isolating bad baselines ? 11. 7. 3.