Improvement of ERS-1 orbits using along-track accelerations from DORIS data on SPOT2
Abstract. In long-arc precise orbit determinations of altimetric satellites such as ERS-1, large errors may occur from mismodelling of aerodynamic drag and solar radiation pressure. Such surface forces for non-spherical satellites require accurate modelling of the effective area and particle-surface interactions, but the dominant source of error is neutral air density as derived from thermospheric models for aerodynamic drag. Several techniques can be employed to alleviate air-drag mismodelling but all require the solution of additional parameters from the tracking data. However, for ERS-1 the sparsity of laser range data limits the application of such empirical techniques. To overcome this, use can be made of the dense DORIS Doppler tracking for SPOT2 which is in a similar orbit to ERS-1. A recent investigation by CNES examined the use of drag scale factors from SPOT2 to constrain the ERS-1 orbit. An improvement to that methodology is to consider along-track mismodelling as observed by timing errors in the Doppler data for each pass of SPOT2. The along-track correction to the acceleration as derived from SPOT2 can then be applied to ERS-1 orbits, solving for a scale factor to absorb systematic errors - particularly that arising from the 50 km altitude difference. Results are presented of the associated improvement in ERS-1 orbits as derived from concurrent SPOT2 arcs. It will be seen that the procedure not only improves the laser range fit, but more importantly, leads to more precise radial positioning as evident in the altimeter and crossover residuals.