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What is RINEX (Receiver Independent Exchange Format)?

written by: Kristina Dems•edited by: Rhonda Callow•updated: 6/8/2010

RINEX, also known as the Receiver Independent Exchange Format, is an important data interchange format which serves as the backbone in understanding global navigation system. This article talks about RINEX as a data format and more.

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    What is RINEX or Receiver Independent Exchange Format?

    Receiver Independent Exchange Format is a data interchange format that is used in handling raw navigation system, data from satellites. This gives users the capability to process data to come up with new and better solutions to problems using additional data that was not available in the original set of information. Calculations, measurements and location information provided by GIS (Geographic Information System) can be passed around among several satellites and receivers, each having the ability to modify, organize and manage the information. The receiver independent exchange format makes this possible by implementing a standard format that can be interpreted by all satellites and receivers. This allows processing regardless of receiver type or manufacturer, giving the whole global navigation industry a truly global communication infrastructure.

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    Given that it is the standard data interchange format for global navigation systems, the receiver independent exchange format is designed to adapt and evolve as satellite and global navigation systems change through time. It makes use of the most current navigation system technology to keep up with future specifications. Every new RINEX update comes with new measurements and more advanced data processing features.

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    The Philosophy of Receiver Independent Exchange Format

    The idea behind RINEX lies on the constant observables that are used by all global navigation systems software. These observables can be obtained from all satellites and can be transmitted between all receivers. The observables are the measurements of beat frequency, code and the observation time. These three observables along with station names and other station-related information are the main focus of RINEX. Every other piece of data can be left behind on receivers. This is the backbone of the whole standard global navigation systems data format.

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    Technical Description

    RINEX currently has 6 standard ASCII file types. They are observation data file, navigation message file, meteorological data file, GLONASS navigation message file, GEO navigation message file and satellite and receiver clock date file. Each file type has a header section, which is mandatory and is following a specific format and syntax, and a data section. RINEX file type format is designed to conserve space. It is optimized to meet minimum space requirements.

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    File Exchange

    In order to have an effective exchange of data between files, RINEX files should follow a strict and required header section and a recommended naming convention to save storage space and maximize compatibility with all processing software. Compressing the files before storage or transmission.

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    Translator Programs

    It is recommended that the receiver manufacturers should be the ones to develop the raw data translator software because they are the ones who fully understand how their receiver works. The only requirement is that all translator program produce files that follow the RINEX standard.

    You may also want to read about SBAS or the Satellite Based Augmentations System.