On the Possibility of Testing the Weak Equivalence Principle with Artificial Earth Satellites
Abstract
In this paper we examine the possibility of testing the equivalence principle, in its weak form, by analyzing the orbital motion of a pair of artificial satellites of different composition moving along orbits of identical shape and size in the gravitational field of the Earth. It turns out that the obtainable level of accuracy is, realistically, of the order of 10^{10} or slightly better. It is limited mainly by the fact that, due to the unavoidable orbital injection errors, it would not be possible to insert the satellites in orbits with exactly the same radius and that such difference could be known only with a finite precision. The presentday level of accuracy, obtained with torsion balance Earthbased measurements and the analysis of the EarthMoon motion in the gravitational field of the Sun with the Lunar Laser Ranging technique, is of the order of 10^{13}. The proposed spacebased missions STEP, μSCOPE, GG and SEE aim to reach a 10^{15}10^{18} precision level.
 Publication:

General Relativity and Gravitation
 Pub Date:
 February 2004
 DOI:
 10.1023/B:GERG.0000010481.56652.5e
 arXiv:
 arXiv:grqc/0309105
 Bibcode:
 2004GReGr..36..361I
 Keywords:

 General Relativity and Quantum Cosmology;
 Astrophysics;
 High Energy Physics  Phenomenology;
 High Energy Physics  Theory;
 Physics  Space Physics
 EPrint:
 LaTex2e, 13 pages, no figures, no tables. To appear in General Relativity and Gravitation