Satellite gradiometry based on a new generation of accelerometers and its potential contribution to Earth gravity field determination

authored by
Qinglu Mu, Jürgen Müller, Hu Wu, Annike Knabe, Min Zhong

An accurate model of the Earth's gravity field is beneficial for practical engineering and many applications in geosciences. European Space Agency (ESA) realized the Gravity Field and Steady-State Ocean Circulation Explorer (GOCE) gradiometry mission between 2009 and 2013. However, the low-frequency drift of the onboard electrostatic accelerometers (EA) limits the observation accuracy of the GOCE mission to some extent. Advances in electrostatic and quantum technology offer new measurement concepts for future gradiometry missions. In this study, we evaluate the contributions of several types of accelerometers through numerical closed-loop simulation which rigorously maps the accelerometers’ sensitivities to the gravity field coefficients. In comparison to the simulated results of the GRADIO gradiometer used in GOCE, it is demonstrated that the MicroSTAR-type gradiometer has superior precision within degree and order 100 and provides more signal information in the off-diagonal components of the gravity gradient tensor (GGT). The precision of the gravity field model recovery from a HybridACC-type gradiometer is significantly affected by the noise level of the cold atom interferometry (CAI) accelerometer. A HybridACC-type gradiometer with low CAI performance (1×10-9m·s-2/Hz) only favors the high degree component because of its higher accuracy in the measurement bandwidth (MBW) between 5 mHz and 100 mHz. While a better CAI performance up to 1×10-11m·s-2/Hz will increase retrieval performance remarkably. With an orbital rotation compensation mechanism, the CAI gradiometer performs with greater accuracy overall. Otherwise, the accuracy based on this sort of gradiometer is only superior up to degree 50.

Institute of Geodesy
CRC 1464: Relativistic and Quantum-Based Geodesy (TerraQ)
External Organisation(s)
University of the Chinese Academy of Sciences (UCAS)
Sun Yat-Sen University
Advances in space research
No. of pages
Publication date
Publication status
Peer reviewed
ASJC Scopus subject areas
Aerospace Engineering, Astronomy and Astrophysics, Geophysics, Atmospheric Science, Space and Planetary Science, Earth and Planetary Sciences(all)
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