Results and issues of atmospheric density correction
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Unpredictable effects of atmospheric drag are the dominant error sources in orbit determination and prediction of low altitude satellites. One prospective direction for increasing the accuracy of position prediction for these satellites is the organization of an upper atmosphere monitoring service. This would be the analog of the weather service in the lower atmosphere. For this purpose, it is proposed to use the drag estimates associated with catalogued inactive payloads and debris. The total number of such drag-perturbed space objects reaches several hundred at any given time. The element sets for these space objects are updated as an ordinary routine operation by the space surveillance systems a few times per day in near-real time. The drag data allows the construction of operative corrections to the modeled atmosphere density without significant additional costs. The approach and results for the atmospheric density correction process are considered. They are based on real drag data from several hundred LEO space objects. The drag information for these space objects were obtained by using Two Line Element (TLE) sets as the observational data. The density corrections are expressed as a linear function of altitude. The time series for the density corrections were obtained with a one-day grid over a four-year interval. The effectiveness of this density correction process is evaluated by comparison of the orbit determination and prediction results obtained with and without the estimated density variations. Some issues requiring solution are discussed.
author list (cited authors)
Yurasov, V. S., Nazarenko, A. I., Cefola, P. J., & Alfriend, K. T.