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Same-beam VLBI observations of SELENE for improving lunar gravity field model

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Abstract

[1] The Japanese lunar mission, Selenological and Engineering Explorer (Kaguya), which was successfully launched on 14 September 2007, consists of a main satellite and two small satellites, Rstar and Vstar. Same-beam very long baseline interferometry (VLBI) observations of Rstar and Vstar were performed for 15.4 months from November 2007 to February 2009 using eight VLBI stations. In 2008, S band same-beam VLBI observations totaling 476 h on 179 days were undertaken. The differential phase delays were successfully estimated for most (about 85%) of the same-beam VLBI observation periods. The high success rate was mainly due to the continuous data series measuring the differential correlation phase between Rstar and Vstar. The intrinsic measurement error in the differential phase delay was less than 1 mm RMS for small separation angles and increased to approximately 2.5 mm RMS for the largest separation angles (up to 0.56 deg). The long-term atmospheric and ionospheric delays along the line of sight were reduced to a low level (several tens of milimeters) using the same-beam VLBI observations, and further improved through application of GPS techniques. Combining the eight-station (four Japanese telescopes of VLBI Exploration of Radio Astrometry and four international telescopes) S band same-beam VLBI data with Doppler and range data, the accuracy of the orbit determination was improved from a level of several tens of meters when only using Doppler and range data to a level of 10 m. As a preliminary test of the technique, the coefficient sigma degree variance of the lunar gravity field was compared with and without 4 months of VLBI data included. A significant reduction below around 10 deg (especially for the second degree) was observed when the VLBI data were included. These observations confirm that the VLBI data contribute to improvements in the accuracy of the orbit determination and through this to the lunar gravity field model.

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