Laser-ranged satellite measurement now accurately reflects Earth's tidal perturbations

February 20, 2018, Springer
The Lustbühel Satellite Laser Tacking. Credit: Jörg Weingrill (CC BY 2.0 [5])

Tides on Earth have a far-reaching influence, including disturbing satellites' measurements by affecting their motion. This disturbance can be studied using a model for the gravitational potential of the Earth, taking into account the fact that Earth's shape is not spherical. The LAser RElativity Satellite (LARES), is the best ever relevant test particle to move in the Earth's gravitational field. In a new study published in EPJ Plus, LARES proves its efficiency for high-precision probing of General Relativity and fundamental physics. By studying the Earth's tidal perturbations acting on the LARES, Vahe Gurzadyan from the Center for Cosmology and Astrophysics at Yerevan State University, Armenia, and colleagues demonstrate the value of laser-range satellites for high-precision measurements.

Specifically, laser-ranged satellites bring increased accuracy in the study and testing of what is referred to in physics as frame dragging. In this study, the authors collect the observations of Earth's tidal perturbations acting on LARES and compare them with two similar laser-ranged satellites: LAGEOS and LAGEOS 2. The team analysed 3.5 years of LARES laser-ranging data, together with that of the two LAGEOS satellites.

To extract frame-dragging from the laser-ranging data for high accuracy, the authors model the main gravitational and non-gravitational orbital perturbations. To do so, the team documented 110 significant Earth tide modes for the LARES using the perturbative methods of celestial mechanics and recent data on the satellite's orbit.

Frame-dragging is one of the intriguing phenomena of Einstein's theory of General Relativity. It is an effect on space, and is elastic—in other words, it will revert back to its original shape and energy state after force is exerted on it-whereby particles exchange energy with it. This has implications for astrophysics.

Explore further: Proving Einstein right using the most sensitive Earth rotation sensors ever made

More information: V. G. Gurzadyan et al, On the Earth's tidal perturbations for the LARES satellite, The European Physical Journal Plus (2017). DOI: 10.1140/epjp/i2017-11839-3

Related Stories

First GRACE follow-on satellite completes construction

November 15, 2016

Construction is now complete on the first of the two satellites for NASA's Gravity Recovery and Climate Experiment Follow-On (GRACE-FO) mission, planned for launch in the December 2017/January 2018 timeframe.

Recommended for you

Weird superconductor leads double life

March 21, 2018

Until about 50 years ago, all known superconductors were metals. This made sense, because metals have the largest number of loosely bound "carrier" electrons that are free to pair up and flow as electrical current with no ...

Taming chaos: Calculating probability in complex systems

March 20, 2018

Daily weather patterns, brain activity on an EEG (electroencephalogram) and heartbeats on an EKG (electrocardiogram) each generate lines of complex data. To analyze this data, perhaps to predict a storm, seizure or heart ...

Shedding light on the mystery of the superconducting dome

March 20, 2018

University of Groningen physicists, and colleagues from Nijmegen and Hong Kong, have induced superconductivity in a monolayer of tungsten disulfide. By using an increasing electric field, they were able to show how the material ...


Please sign in to add a comment. Registration is free, and takes less than a minute. Read more

Click here to reset your password.
Sign in to get notified via email when new comments are made.