The error sensitivity of orbit calculations in support of the NASA Ocean Surface Topography Mapping Experiment (TOPEX), which require an accuracy on the order of 5 cm, is investigated. The contributions of errors in the gravitational, atmospheric drag and solar radiation pressure models to the computed orbit are analyzed for the cases of an ideal data distribution and realistic laser ranging data coverage. It is found that the major contributor to radial orbital error is the error in the geopotential model, accounting for orbital errors of 30 to 70 cm, with the effects of solar radiation pressure, drag modeling, tracking station coordinate errors making lesser contributions. It is concluded that TOPEX accuracy goals cannot be met using ground-based laser ranging data without improving the geopotential model.
SPACE COMMUNICATIONS, SPACECRAFT COMMUNICATIONS, COMMAND AND TRACKING
AAS PAPER 81-158
Astrodynamics Specialist Conference; Aug. 3-5, 1981; Lake Tahoe, NV; US