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Conditions Necessary to Attain Submillimeter Accuracy in Satellite Laser Ranging

Keywords:

M.A. Sadovnikov


In satellite laser ranging (SLR) the basic measurement errors are caused by atmospheric refraction (taken into account by a refraction correction value), retroreflector system “target error” (taken into account by a center-of-mass correction value), influence of hardware system delays (taken into account by a calibration correction value) and variations of return pulse arrival time. Ultimately, the random and systematic variations of return pulse arrival time provide a contribution into the determination of all kinds of correction values by spacecraft ranging. Hence, to attain a submillimeter ranging accuracy in SLR it is first of all necessary to provide a corresponding accuracy of return pulse arrival time determination. Currently, a progressive method is successfully used for measurement accuracy increasing, where in a single-electron receive mode a return pulse arrival time determination is made in combination with a high transmit pulse repetition frequency (PRF). The advantage of single-electron receive mode with high PRF should be provided by an adequate selection of main SLR system parameters: power, beam divergence etc., to maintain the single-electron operation mode and to provide the required ranging accuracy. In the article, analytical expressions are presented for determination of interrelationship between the SLR system basic parameters and the ranging errors in the single-electron receive mode, as well as the conditions necessary to attain a submillimeter ranging accyracy.
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