Sensitivity of Lageos Orbits to Global Gravity Field Models

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Sensitivity of Lageos Orbits to Global Gravity Field Models

Precise orbit determination is an essential task when analyzing SLR data. The quality of the satellite orbits strongly depends on the models used for dynamic orbit determination. The global gravity field model used is one of the crucial elements, which has a significant influence on the satellite orbit and its accuracy. We study the impact of different gravity field models on the determination of the LAGEOS-1 and -2 orbits for data of the year 2008. Eleven gravity field models are compared, namely JGM3 and EGM96 based mainly on SLR, terrestrial and altimetry data, AIUB-CHAMP03S based uniquely on GPS-measurements made by CHAMP, AIUB-GRACE03S, ITG-GRACE2010 based on GRACE data, and the combined gravity field models based on different measurement techniques, such as EGM2008, EIGEN-GL04C, EIGEN51C, GOCO02S, GO-CONS-2-DIR-R2, AIUB-SST. The gravity field models are validated using the RMS of the observation residuals of 7-day LAGEOS solutions. The study reveals that GRACE-based models have the smallest RMS values (i.e., about 7.15 mm), despite the fact that no SLR data were used to determine them. The coefficient C20 is not always well estimated in GRACE-only models. There is a significant improvement of the gravity field models based on CHAMP, GRACE and GOCE w.r.t. models of the pre-CHAMP era. The LAGEOS orbits are particularly sensitive to the long wavelength part of the gravity fields. Differences of the estimated orbits due to different gravity field models are noticeable up to degree and order of about 30. The RMS of residuals improves from about 40 mm for degree 8, to about 7 mm for the solutions up to degrees 14 and higher. The quality of the predicted orbits is studied, as well.

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