Various techniques and procedures for refining ERS-1 orbits
The satellite ERS-1 was launched in July 1991 in a period of high solar activity. Sparse laser tracking and the failure of the experimental microwave system (PRARE) compounded the orbital errors which resulted from mismodelling of atmospheric density and hence surface forces. Three attempts are presented here to try and refine the coarse laser orbits of ERS-1, made prior to the availability of the full altimetric dataset. The results of the first attempt indicate that by geometrically modelling the satellite shape some improvement in orbital precision may be made for any satellite; especially one where no area tables already exist. The second and third refinement attempts are based on the introduction of data from some second satellite; in these examples SPOT-2 and TOPEX/Poseidon are employed. With SPOT-2 the method makes use of the orbital similarities to produce along-track corrections for the more fully tracked SPOT-2. Transferring these corrections to ERS-1 produces improvements in the precise orbits thus determined. With TOPEX/Poseidon the greater altitude results in a more precise orbit (gravity field and atmospheric errors are of less importance). Thus, by computing height differences at crossover points of the TOPEX/Poseidon and ERS-1 ground tracks the poorer orbit of ERS-1 may be improved by the addition of derived radial corrections. In the positive light of all three results several potential modification are suggested and some further avenues of investigation indicated.