On the possibility of measuring relativistic gravitational effects with a LAGEOS-LAGEOS II-OPTIS-mission
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Type of Work16 pages
journal articles preprints
Citation of Original PublicationLorenzo Iorio et al., On the possibility of measuring the Lense–Thirring effect with a LAGEOS–LAGEOS II–OPTIS mission, Class. Quantum Grav. 21 2139, doi: https://doi.org/10.1088/0264-9381/21/8/016
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This is the version of the article before peer review or editing, as submitted by an author to Classical and Quantum Gravity. IOP Publishing Ltd is not responsible for any errors or omissions in this version of the manuscript or any version derived from it. The Version of Record is available online at https://doi.org/10.1088/0264-9381/21/8/016.
A space mission, OPTIS, has been proposed for testing the foundations of special relativity and post-Newtonian gravitation in the field of the Earth. The constraints posed on the original OPTIS orbital geometry would allow for a rather wide range of possibilities for the final OPTIS orbital parameters. This freedom could be exploited for further tests of post-Newtonian gravity. In this paper, we wish to preliminarily investigate if it would be possible to use the orbital data from OPTIS together with those from the existing geodetic passive laser-ranged LAGEOS and LAGEOS II satellites in order to perform precise measurements of the Lense–Thirring effect. With regard to this possibility, it is important to note that the drag-free technology which should be adopted for the OPTIS mission would yield a lifetime of many years for this satellite. It turns out that the best choice would probably be to adopt the same orbital configuration as the proposed LAGEOS-like LARES satellite and, for testing, select a linear combination including the nodes of LAGEOS, LAGEOS II and OPTIS and the perigee of OPTIS. The total systematic error should be of the order of 1%. The LARES orbital geometry should not be too much in conflict with the original specifications of the OPTIS mission. However, a compromise solution could also be adopted. A comparison with the new perspectives of measuring the Lense–Thirring effect with the existing laser-tracked satellites opened by the new gravity models from CHAMP and, especially, GRACE is made. It turns out that an OPTIS/LARES mission would still be of great significance because the obtainable accuracy would be better than that offered by a reanalysis of the currently existing satellites.