Benefit of enhanced electrostatic and optical accelerometry for future gravimetry missions

authored by
Alexey Kupriyanov, Arthur Reis, Manuel Schilling, Vitali Müller, Jürgen Müller

Twenty years of gravity observations from various satellite missions have provided unique data about mass redistribution processes in the Earth system, such as melting of Greenland's ice shields, sea level changes, ground and underground water depletion, droughts, floods, etc. The ongoing climate change underlines the urgent need to continue this kind of observations with future gravimetry missions using enhanced concepts and sensors. This paper studies the benefit of enhanced electrostatic and novel optical accelerometers and gradiometers for future gravimetry missions. One of the limiting factors in the current space gravimetry missions is the drift of the Electrostatic Accelerometers (EA) which dominates the error contribution at low frequencies (<1mHz). This study focuses on the modeling of enhanced EAs with laser-interferometric readout, so-called optical accelerometers, and on evaluating their performance for gravity field recovery in future satellite missions. In this paper, we simulate gravimetry missions in multiple scopes, applying various software modules for satellite dynamics integration, accelerometer (ACC) and gradiometer simulation and gravity field recovery. The total noise budgets of the modeled enhanced electrostatic and optical ACCs show a similar sensitivity as the ACC concepts from other research groups. Parametrization w.r.t. the weight of the test mass (TM) of ACCs and the gap between the TM and the surrounding electrode housing confirmed the fact known from previous results that an ACC with a heavier TM and a larger gap will perform better. Our results suggest that the anticipated gain of novel ACCs might at some point be potentially limited by noise from the inter-satellite laser ranging interferometry. In order to present the advantage of the novel sensors, time-variable background models and associated aliasing errors were not considered in our simulations. The utilization of enhanced EAs and optical ACCs shows a significant improvement of accuracy compared to the currently used GRACE-like EA. In addition, their benefit in double satellite pairs in a so-called Bender constellation as well as in the combination of low-low satellite-to-satellite tracking with cross-track gradiometry has been investigated.

Institute of Geodesy
CRC 1464: Relativistic and Quantum-Based Geodesy (TerraQ)
External Organisation(s)
Max Planck Institute for Gravitational Physics (Albert Einstein Institute)
German Aerospace Center (DLR)
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)
Sustainable Development Goals
SDG 13 - Climate Action
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