A theoretical analysis of a relativity mission with two counterorbiting dragfree satellites
Abstract
An experiment designed to accurately measure a dynamic effect of the general theory of relativity employs two counterorbiting dragfree satellites in nearly identical circular, polar orbits at an altitude of 800 km. This configuration distinguishes between the nonrelativistic perturbations (which produce opposite effects on the satellites) and the relativistic LenseThirring effect (which drags the ascending nodes of both of the satellites eastward at a rate of 6 meters/year). Satellitetosatellite Doppler ranging measurements are made as the satellites pass each other near the earth's poles. Smoothing these measurements gives the relative orbital perturbations to millimeter precision. Ground tracking over the entire orbital paths gives the node locations to 10 centimeter precision for a 2.5 year experiment. The two satellite experiment provides a mechanism for distinguishing the relativistic effect from the nonrelativistic effects.
 Publication:

Ph.D. Thesis
 Pub Date:
 1977
 Bibcode:
 1977PhDT.......101S
 Keywords:

 Experiment Design;
 Relativistic Theory;
 Reversing;
 Satellite Orbits;
 Doppler Effect;
 Orbit Perturbation;
 SatelliteToSatellite Tracking;
 Launch Vehicles and Space Vehicles