Geodetic Studies by Laser Ranging to Satellites

  1. Soren W. Henriksen,
  2. Armando Mancini and
  3. Bernard H. Chovitz
  1. David E. Smith1,
  2. Ronald Kolenkiewicz1 and
  3. Peter J. Dunn2

Published Online: 15 MAR 2013

DOI: 10.1029/GM015p0187

The Use of Artificial Satellites for Geodesy

The Use of Artificial Satellites for Geodesy

How to Cite

Smith, D. E., Kolenkiewicz, R. and Dunn, P. J. (1972) Geodetic Studies by Laser Ranging to Satellites, in The Use of Artificial Satellites for Geodesy (eds S. W. Henriksen, A. Mancini and B. H. Chovitz), American Geophysical Union, Washington, D. C.. doi: 10.1029/GM015p0187

Author Information

  1. 1

    Goddard Space Flight Center, Greenbelt, Maryland 20771

  2. 2

    Wolf Research and Development Corporation, Riverdale, Maryland 20771

Publication History

  1. Published Online: 15 MAR 2013
  2. Published Print: 1 JAN 1972

ISBN Information

Print ISBN: 9780875900155

Online ISBN: 9781118663646



  • Goddard Space Flight Center (GSFC);
  • Godlas' latitude;
  • Gravitational model;
  • Observation period;
  • Senlas position


For three months in 1970, two Goddard Space Flight Center (GSFC) laser tracking systems were used to try to detect the motion of the pole of rotation of the earth. One tracking station was at GSFC, and the other was about 400 km due north near Seneca Lake in New York State. More than two hundred passes of the Beacon Explorer C spacecraft were observed as it passed between the two stations, fifty of which were simultaneous, and these data were used to determine the orbital inclination of the spacecraft. The analysis required the accurate determination of the relative positions of the two tracking stations and the identification of the perturbations to the spacecraft orbit, in particular, those due to the gravitational fields of the earth, sun, and moon and those caused by the solid-earth tides. The results to date indicate that the GSFC laser systems can determine interstation distances with a repeatability of about 25 cm and that a new value of the Love number k that represents the distortion of the earth's gravity field caused by the tidal deformation of the earth is 0.35 ± 0.05.