Non-gravitational Perturbations and Satellite Geodesy
Celestial mechanics aims to predict the motion of every real object in outer space, no matter what causes changes in its orbit. The motion of most planets and natural satellites can be successfully described by conservative celestial mechanics and problems can be studied within the formalism of Hamiltonian mechanics. The few exceptions which experience significant non-gravitational effects call for only very small corrections to the purely gravitational theory. All satellites experience non-gravitational perturbations to their orbits. However, factors such as the relatively high area-to-mass ratio of spacecraft compared with that of even a tiny asteroid significantly increase the relative effect of non-gravitational to gravitational forces on the orbits of artificial satellites. When the orbital tracking is carried out by very accurate techniques, the need arises to model, or at least to estimate, the effects of phenomena such as radiation pressure from solar light and from Earthshine or drag caused by neutral and charged particles. This book presents the basic ideas of the physics of the main non-gravitational perturbations and the mathematics of the methods required to compute their orbital effects. The authors convey to the reader the relevance of the different problems that need to be solved to achieve a given level of accuracy in the orbit determination and in the recovery of geophysically significant parameters. The book will enable readers to assess for themselves the possible geodetic uses of given space missions, or maybe to propose a new one, or to propose a combined geodetic use for a mission envisaged for other purposes. The Authors Andrea Milani is a mathematician, Anna Maria Nobili ad Paolo Farinella are physicists. They began working together in celestial mechanics and satellite geodesy in 1978, when they formed, with others, the Space Mechanics Group now based at the Department of Mathematics of the University of Pisa, Italy. By travelling to many research centres in Europe and in the USA, and by presenting several proposals for space-based experiments to the European Space Agency and to the Italian Space Program, they have learned how to assess the difficulty of an orbit determination and how often the problem is due to poor modelling of very-subtle non-gravitational effects, In this book they try to make their know-how available to others, as well as teaching some basic tools of celestial mechanics on the basis of their experience in basic research. A Milani and A M Nobili also work on the stability of the solar system, P Farinella also studies the dynamics and physics of the asteriod belt.
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