IJG  Vol.5 No.3 , March 2014
Feasible Multiple Satellite Mission Scenarios Flying in a Constellation for Refinement of the Gravity Field Recovery
Author(s) Basem Elsaka*
ABSTRACT

Improving the gravity field recovery in terms of error levels and more isotropic noise distribution by adding cross-track and radial information to the satellite observables has been investigated through a number of studies by a variety of satellite constellations, i.e. satellite pairs that orbit the Earth in alternative configurations than the current GRACE (Gravity Recovery And Climate Experiment) gravity mission. This contribution gives for the first time a comparative study considering the recovery of the global gravity field from three constellations flying in satellite pairs in different directions (i.e. along-track, cross-track and radial). The three constellations include: 1) Foursatellite Bender configuration (flying in two pairs) of type along-track observations, 2) Three-satellite GRAPEN (combined GRACE with Pendulum formations) configuration of type cross-alongtrack observations, 3) Four-satellite Cartwheel configuration (flying in two pairs) of type radialalong-track observations. Additionally, a GRACE mission scenario is added as a reference “comparative” mission. The orbits of all satellites are considered to fly with drag-free system, however, realistic white noise has been added to the simulated observations to mimic the error associated with the drag-free measurement. The results are analyzed in the spectral wavelength spectrum of the gravity field up to a spherical harmonics degree of n = 100 and are plotted spatially on earth maps. The results show that the Three-satellite GRAPEN constellation provides, besides its low economically launches, an improved gravity field solution with respect to the Four-satellite Bender and the Four-satellite Cartwheel constellations.


Cite this paper
Elsaka, B. (2014) Feasible Multiple Satellite Mission Scenarios Flying in a Constellation for Refinement of the Gravity Field Recovery. International Journal of Geosciences, 5, 267-273. doi: 10.4236/ijg.2014.53027.
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