Abstract

A laser ranging error budget is detailed, and a specific error budget is derived for the TOPEX/POSEIDON satellite. A ranging uncertainty of 0.76 cm is predicted for TOPEX/POSEIDON at 20° elevation using the presently designed laser retroreflector array and only modest improvements in present system operations. Atmospheric refraction and satellite attitude effects cause the predicted range error to vary with satellite elevation angle from 0.71 cm at zenith to 0.76 cm at 20° elevation. This a priori error budget compares well with the ~1.2-cm rms a posteriori polynomial orbital fit using existing data taken for an extant satellite of similar size and orbit.

© 1990 Optical Society of America

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