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Estimation of Local Lunar Gravity Features


  • Peter Gottlieb


A quantitative estimate of the gravity features on the near surface of the moon has been obtained by iteratively constructing a mass density model to improve the agreement between actual Doppler tracking data from Lunar-Orbiter spacecraft and theoretical trajectory predictions. Thirty three typical orbits (24 nearly polar and 9 nearly equatorial) were selected at 3 to 4 degree separations to cover most of the front side of the moon. Each iterative stage consisted of placing masses near the lunar surface at locations indicated by the peak residual accelerations observed after fitting the data with the model constructed at the previous iteration.

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