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Intersatellite laser ranging instrument for the GRACE follow-on mission

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http://pubman.mpdl.mpg.de/cone/persons/resource/persons40495

Sheard,  Benjamin
Laser Interferometry & Gravitational Wave Astronomy, AEI-Hannover, MPI for Gravitational Physics, Max Planck Society;

http://pubman.mpdl.mpg.de/cone/persons/resource/persons40460

Heinzel,  Gerhard
Laser Interferometry & Gravitational Wave Astronomy, AEI-Hannover, MPI for Gravitational Physics, Max Planck Society;

http://pubman.mpdl.mpg.de/cone/persons/resource/persons40437

Danzmann,  Karsten
Laser Interferometry & Gravitational Wave Astronomy, AEI-Hannover, MPI for Gravitational Physics, Max Planck Society;

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Citation

Sheard, B., Heinzel, G., Danzmann, K., Shaddock, D. A., Klipstein, W. M., & Folkner, W. M. (2012). Intersatellite laser ranging instrument for the GRACE follow-on mission. Journal of Geodesy, 86(12), 1083-1095. doi:10.1007/s00190-012-0566-3.


Cite as: http://hdl.handle.net/11858/00-001M-0000-000F-E98C-E
Abstract
The Gravity Recovery and Climate Experiment (GRACE) has demonstrated that low–low satellite-to-satellite tracking enables monitoring the time variations of the Earth’s gravity field on a global scale, in particular those caused by mass-transport within the hydrosphere. Due to the importance of long-term continued monitoring of the variations of the Earth’s gravitational field and the limited lifetime of GRACE, a follow-on mission is currently planned to be launched in 2017. In order to minimise risk and the time to launch, the follow-on mission will be basically a rebuild of GRACE with microwave ranging as the primary instrument for measuring changes of the intersatellite distance. Laser interferometry has been proposed as a method to achieve improved ranging precision for future GRACE-like missions and is therefore foreseen to be included as demonstrator experiment in the follow-on mission now under development. This paper presents the top-level architecture of an interferometric laser ranging system designed to demonstrate the technology which can also operate in parallel with the microwave ranging system of the GRACE follow-on mission.