The method of data augmentation, in the form ofa priori covariance information on the reference solution, as a means to overcome the effects of ill-conditioning in orbit determination problems has been investigated. Specifically, for the case when ill-conditioning results from parameter non-observability and an appropriatea priori covariance is unknown, methods by which thea priori covariance is optimally chosen are presented. In problems where an inaccuratea priori covariance is provided, the optimal weighting of this data set is obtained. The feasibility of these ‘ridge-type’ solution methods is demonstrated by their application to a non-observable gravity field recovery simulation. In the simulation, both ‘ridge-type’ and conventional solutions are compared. Substantial improvement in the accuracy of the conventional solution is realized by the use of these ridge-type solution methods. The solution techniques presented in this study are applicable to observable, but ill-conditioned problems as well as the unobservable problems directly addressed. For the case of observable problems, the ridge-type solutions provide an improvement in the accuracy of the ordinary least squares solutions.