Geodesy with Orbiting Gravity Gradiometers

  1. Soren W. Henriksen,
  2. Armando Mancini and
  3. Bernard H. Chovitz
  1. Robert L. Forward

Published Online: 15 MAR 2013

DOI: 10.1029/GM015p0239

The Use of Artificial Satellites for Geodesy

The Use of Artificial Satellites for Geodesy

How to Cite

Forward, R. L. (1972) Geodesy with Orbiting Gravity Gradiometers, 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/GM015p0239

Author Information

  1. Exploratory Studies Department Hughes Research Laboratories, Malibu, California 90265

Publication History

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

ISBN Information

Print ISBN: 9780875900155

Online ISBN: 9781118663646



  • Doppler tracking technique;
  • Doppler velocity;
  • Earth geodesy experiment;
  • Orbiting gravity gradiometers;
  • Periodic mass models


A new instrument for sensing the earth's gravity field, the rotating gravity gradiometer, has been demonstrated in the laboratory. A design with sensitivity adequate for geodesy from low earth orbit is under development by NASA. The gravity gradiometer measures the gradient of the gravity force field rather than the field itself. The sensor does not respond to acceleration and can operate in free fall or in accelerating environments where the usual gravity meters cannot work. A gradiometer in a spin-stabilized satellite in a low polar orbit will make a significant contribution to the geodetic mapping program presently being carried out by satellite tracking, since it preferentially senses the higher harmonics (>35) of the earth's field, where the Doppler tracking signals fall off rapidly.