The spaceborne altimeter missions of Geos 3 (50‐cm accuracy) and the future Seasat (10‐cm accuracy) require precise knowledge of the radial position of the spacecraft to be most‐effective. Though errors in previous gravity models have produced large uncertainties in the orbital position of Geos 3, significant improvement has been obtained with new geopotential solutions, Goddard Earth Model (GEM) 9 and 10. The solution for GEM 9 was derived by combining laser data from Geos 3, Lageos, and Starlette; S band measurements on Landsat 1; and data from 26 other satellites used in previous solutions. GEM 10 is a combination solution containing a global set of surface gravity anomalies along with the data in GEM 9. Radial errors of Geos 3 for 5‐day arcs have been reduced from about 5 m to 1 m on the basis of orbital intercomparisons, station navigations, and analyses employing crossover points from passes of altimetry. The use of highly accurate laser data in a constrained least squares solution has permitted GEM 9 to be a larger field than previous derived satellite models, GEM 9 having harmonics complete to 20 × 20 with selected higher‐degree terms. The satellite data set has approximately 840,000 observations, of which 200,000 are laser ranges taken on nine satellites equipped with retroreflectors. GEM 10 is complete to 22 × 22 with selected higher‐degree terms out to degree and order 30 amounting to a total of 592 coefficients. Comparisons with surface gravity and altimeter data indicate a substantial improvement in GEM 9 over previous satellite solutions; GEM 9 is in even closer agreement with surface data than the previously published GEM 6 solution which contained surface gravity. In particular, the free air gravity anomalies calculated from GEM 9 and a surface gravity solution by Rapp (1977) are in excellent agreement for the high‐degree terms (13 ≤ l ≤ 22). From these terms an estimate is made of the gravity anomalies for the upper mantle. The mass constant of the earth, GM, has been estimated from the laser data as 398,600.64±0.02 km3/s2, a value which is principally determined from Lageos. The speed of light used was 299,792.5 km/s. Geocentric station positions were determined for approximately 150 stations in GEM 10. These station coordinates, their mean sea level heights, and altimetry data provide an estimate for the mean radius of the earth of ae = 6,378,139 ± 1 m. Accuracy estimates derived for the potential coefficients have been verified with independent data sets. These produce commission errors in geoid heights of 1.9 m and 1.5 m (global rms values), respectively, for GEM 9 and 10.
An improved Earth geopotential model, complete to spherical harmonic degree and order 70, has been determined by combining the Joint Gravity Model 1 (JGM 1) geopotential coefficients, and their associated error covariance, with new information from SLR, DORIS, and GPS tracking of TOPEX/Poseidon, laser tracking of LAGEOS 1, LAGEOS 2, and Stella, and additional DORIS tracking of SPOT 2. The resulting field, JGM 3, which has been adopted for the TOPEX/Poseidon altimeter data rerelease, yields improved orbit accuracies as demonstrated by better fits to withheld tracking data and substantially reduced geographically correlated orbit error. Methods for analyzing the performance of the gravity field using high‐precision tracking station positioning were applied. Geodetic results, including station coordinates and Earth orientation parameters, are significantly improved with the JGM 3 model. Sea surface topography solutions from TOPEX/Poseidon altimetry indicate that the ocean geoid has been improved. Subset solutions performed by withholding either the GPS data or the SLR/DORIS data were computed to demonstrate the effect of these particular data sets on the gravity model used for TOPEX/Poseidon orbit determination.
GEM‐T2 is the latest in a series of Goddard Earth models of the terrestrial gravitational field. It is the second in a planned sequence of gravity models designed to improve both the modeling capabilities for determining the TOPEX/Poseidon satellite's radial position to an accuracy of 10‐cm RMS and for defining the long‐wavelength geoid to support many oceanographic and geophysical applications. GEM‐T2 includes more than 6OU coefficients above degree 36, the limit for GEM‐T1, and provides a dynamically determined model of the major tidal components which contains 90 terms. Like GEM‐T1, it was produced entirely from satellite tracking data. GEM‐T2 however, now uses nearly twice as many satellites (31 versus 17), contains 3 times the number of observations (2.4 million), and has twice the number of data arcs (1130). GEM‐T2 utilizes laser tracking from 11 satellites, Doppler data from four satellites, two‐ and three‐way range rate data from Landsat‐1, satellite‐to‐satellite tracking data between the geosynchronous ATS 6 and GEOS 3, and optical observations on 20 different orbits. This observation set effectively exhausts the inclination distribution available for gravitational field development from our historical data base. The recovery of the higher degree and order coefficients in GEM‐T2 was made possible through the application of a constrained least squares technique using the known spectrum of the Earth's gravity field as a priori information. The error calibration of the model was performed concurrently with its generation by comparing the complete model against test solutions which omit each individually identifiable data set in turn. The differences between the solutions isolate the contribution of a given data set, and the magnitudes of these differences are compared for consistency against their expected values from the respective solution covariances. The process yields near optimal data weights and assures that the model will be both self‐consistent and well calibrated. GEM‐T2 has benefitted by its application as demonstrated through comparisons using independently derived gravity anomalies from altimelry. Results for the GEM‐T2 error calibration indicate significant improvement over previous satellite‐only GEM models. The accuracy assessment of the lower degree and order coefficients of GEM‐T2 shows that their uncertainties have been reduced by 20% compared to GEM‐T1. The commission error of the geoid has been reduced from 160 cm for GEM‐T1 to 130 cm for GEM‐T2 for the 36 × 36 portion of the field. The orbital accuracies achieved using GEM‐T2 are likewise improved. This is especially true for the Starlette and GEOS 3 orbits where higher‐order resonance terms not present in GEM‐T1 (e.g., terms with m = 42,43) are now well represented in GEM‐T2. The improvement in orbital accuracy of GEM‐T2 over GEM‐T1 extends across all orbit inclinations. This confirms our conclusion that GEM‐T2 offers a significant advance in knowledge of the Earth's gravity field.
A major new computation of a terrestrial gravitational field model has been performed by the Geodynamics Branch of Goddard Space Flight Center (GSFC). In the development of this new model, designated Goddard Earth Model GEM‐T1, the design decisions of the past have been reassessed in light of the present state of the art in satellite geodesy. With GEM‐T1 a level of internal consistency has been achieved which is superior to any earlier Goddard Earth Model. For the first time a simultaneous solution has been made for spherical harmonic parameters of both invariant and tidal parts of the gravitational field. The solution of this satellite model to degree 36 is a major factor accounting for its improved accuracy. The addition of more precise and previously unused laser data and the introduction of consistent models were also accomplished with GEM‐T1. Another major factor allowing the creation of this model was the redesign and vectorization of our main software tools (GEODYN II and SOLVE) for the GSFC Cyber 205 computer. In particular, the high‐speed advantage (50:1), gained with the new SOLVE program, made possible an optimization of the weighting and parameter estimation scheme used in previous GEM models resulting in significant improvement in GEM‐T1. The solution for the GEM‐T1 model made use of the latest International Association of Geodesy reference constants, including the J2000 Reference System. It provided a simultaneous solution for (1) a gravity model in spherical harmonics complete to degree and order 36; (2) a subset of 66 ocean tidal coefficients for the long‐wavelength components of 12 major tides. This adjustment was made in the presence of 550 other fixed ocean tidal terms representing 32 major and minor tides and the Wahr frequency dependent solid earth tidal model; and (3) 5‐day averaged Earth rotation and polar motion parameters for the 1980 period onward. GEM‐T1 was derived exclusively from satellite tracking data acquired on 17 different satellites whose inclinations ranged from 15° to polar. In all, almost 800,000 observations were used, half of which were from third generation (<5 cm) laser systems. A calibration of the model accuracies has been performed showing GEM‐T1 to be a significant improvement over earlier GSFC “satellite‐only” models based purely on tracking data for both orbital and geoidal modeling applications. For the longest wavelength portion of the geoid (to 8×8), GEM‐T1 is a major advancement over all GEM models, even those containing altimetry and surface gravimetry. The radial accuracy for the anticipated TOPEX/POSEIDON orbit was estimated using the covariances of the GEM‐T1 model. The radial errors were found to be at the 25‐cm rms level as compared to 65 cm found using GEM‐L2. This simulation evaluated only errors arising from geopotential sources. GEM‐L2 was the best available model for TOPEX prior to the work described herein. A major step toward reaching the accuracy of gravity modeling necessary for the TOPEX/POSEIDON mission has been achieved.
The TOPEX/POSEIDON (T/P) prelaunch Joint Gravity Model‐1 (JGM‐I) and the postlaunch JGM‐2 Earth gravitational models have been developed to support precision orbit determination for T/P. Each of these models is complete to degree 70 in spherical harmonics and was computed from a combination of satellite tracking data, satellite altimetry, and surface gravimetry. While improved orbit determination accuracies for T/P have driven the improvements in the models, the models are general in application and also provide an improved geoid for oceanographic computations. The postlaunch model, JGM‐2, which includes T/P satellite laser ranging (SLR) and Doppler orbitography and radiopositioning integrated by satellite (DORIS) tracking data, introduces radial orbit errors for T/P that are only 2 cm RMS with the commission errors of the marine geoid for terms to degree 70 being ±25 cm. Errors in modeling the nonconservative forces acting on T/P increase the total radial errors to only 3–4 cm RMS, a result much better than premission goals. While the orbit accuracy goal for T/P has been far surpassed, geoid errors still prevent the absolute determination of the ocean dynamic topography for wavelengths shorter than about 2500 km. Only a dedicated gravitational field satellite mission will likely provide the necessary improvement in the geoid.
Doppler tracking data of three orbiting spacecraft have been reanalyzed to develop a new gravitational field model for the planet Mars, Goddard Mars Model 1 (GMM‐1). This model employs nearly all available data, consisting of approximately 1100 days of S band tracking data collected by NASA's Deep Space Network from the Mariner 9 and Viking 1 and Viking 2 spacecraft, in seven different orbits, between 1971 and 1979. GMM‐1 is complete to spherical harmonic degree and order 50, which corresponds to a half‐wavelength spatial resolution of 200–300 km where the data permit. GMM‐1 represents satellite orbits with considerably better accuracy than previous Mars gravity models and shows greater resolution of identifiable geological structures. The notable improvement in GMM‐1 over previous models is a consequence of several factors: improved computational capabilities, the use of optimum weighting and least squares collocation solution techniques which stabilized the behavior of the solution at high degree and order, and the use of longer satellite arcs than employed in previous solutions that were made possible by improved force and measurement models. The inclusion of X band tracking data from the 379‐km altitude, near‐polar orbiting Mars Observer spacecraft should provide a significant improvement over GMM‐1, particularly at high latitudes where current data poorly resolve the gravitational signature of the planet.
An improved model of Earth's gravitational field, GEM‐T3, has been developed from a combination of satellite tracking, satellite altimeter, and surface gravimetric data. GEM‐T3 provides a significant improvement in the modeling of the gravity field at half wavelengths of 400 km and longer. This model, complete to degree and order 50, yields more accurate satellite orbits and an improved geoid representation than previous Goddard Earth Models. GEM‐T3 uses altimeter data from GEOS 3 (1975–1976), Seasat (1978) and Geosat (1986–1987). Tracking information used in the solution includes more than 1300 arcs of data encompassing 31 different satellites. The recovery of the long‐wavelength components of the solution relies mostly on highly precise satellite laser ranging (SLR) data, but also includes TRANET Doppier, optical, and satellite‐to‐satellite tracking acquired between the ATS 6 and GEOS 3 satellites. The main advances over GEM‐T2 (beyond the inclusion of altimeter and surface gravity information which is essential for the resolution of the shorter wavelength geoid) are some improved tracking data analysis approaches and additional SLR data. Although the use of altimeter data has greatly enhanced the modeling of the ocean geoid between 65°N and 60°S latitudes in GEM‐T3, the lack of accurate detailed surface gravimetry leaves poor geoid resolution over many continental regions of great tectonic interest (e.g., Himalayas, Andes). Estimates of polar motion, tracking station coordinates, and long‐wavelength ocean tidal terms were also made (accounting for 6330 parameters). GEM‐T3 has undergone error calibration using a technique based on subset solutions to produce reliable error estimates. The calibration is based on the condition that the expected mean square deviation of a subset gravity solution from the full set values is predicted by the solutions' error covariances. Data weights are iteratively adjusted until this condition for the error calibration is satisfied. In addition, gravity field tests were performed on strong satellite data sets withheld from the solution (thereby ensuring their independence). In these tests, the performance of the subset models on the withheld observations is compared to error projections based on their calibrated error covariances. These results demonstrate that orbit accuracy projections are reliable for new satellites which were not included in GEM‐T3.
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