Date of Award

Spring 1-1-2015

Document Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)


Aerospace Engineering Sciences

First Advisor

Kristine Larson

Second Advisor

Penina Axelrad

Third Advisor

Dennis Akos

Fourth Advisor

Judah Levine

Fifth Advisor

Eric Small


Although developed with a narrow focus in mind, use of GPS has expanded into dozens of fields in industry, science, and military applications. The purpose of the research detailed in this dissertation is an increase in the utility of GPS by improving primary applications of the constellation and expand the practicality of some secondary applications. The first portion of this dissertation focuses on the development of clock estimation algorithms for a GPS aiding system called iGPS which has been designed to improve the performance of the system in challenging environments. Central to the functioning of iGPS are the Iridium communication satellites. This dissertation describes a Kalman filter for estimating Iridium satellite clock biases from GPS-like measurements at an interval of 10 s. Typical results show the current filter to be accurate to within 200 ns while always meeting the initial system specification of half a microsecond. The following chapter examines the expediency of increasing the number of terms used to represent the clock bias in the broadcast message and it is shown that the current broadcast message is sufficient. The second half of the dissertation deals with the use of GPS multipath as an environmental measurement. It is shown that reflections of GPS signals from the ground can be used to estimate several important phenological indicators relative to the vegetation surrounding the GPS antenna. Methods are developed for refining the reflected signal and preparing it for use as a vegetation index. Finally, the effect of temperature and multipath suppression algorithms on the GPS multipath data is examined relative to its viability for use as previously described. It is shown that these effects are minor in the majority of the GPS sites used in this study and that the data can be adjusted to avoid temperature difficulties.