Abstract

A new Satellite Laser Ranging (SLR) analysis program is being developed at Hartebeesthoek Radio Astronomy Observatory (HartRAO) that can model satellite orbits with high accuracy utilising advanced modelling and SLR data. We introduce the background to SLR analysis to an interdisciplinary audience and present the results of processing one month of LAGEOS-1 and LAGEOS-2 data in combined and separate solutions. The inclusion of Earth-tide modelling is shown to be necessary to reduce range bias and to minimise observed minus computed (O-C) residuals. The combined solution shows a reduction in range bias when allowance is made for the SLR station displacement vector due to solid Earth-tide and the effect of the Earth-tide on the static gravity field. In order to make the comparison it is necessary to set the a-priori estimation error of unmodelled forces to a low value as it tends to absorb range biases and improve O-C residuals if included as an additional solve-for parameter. A comparison between the SLR station position perturbation resulting from solid Earth-tide and range bias indicates a correlation, which probably results from an overestimate of the Earth-tide vector and indicates that SLR will be able to differentiate between and evaluate different Earth-tide models. These are preliminary results and further improvement is envisaged due to the planned inclusion of additional advanced modelling procedures. Applications of this software will include velocity field determinations for crustal dynamics studies.

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