Journal Article Measurement-based perturbation theory and differential equation parameter estimation with applications to satellite gravimetry

Xu, Peiliang

The numerical integration method has been routinely used by major institutions worldwide, for example, NASA Goddard Space Flight Center and German Research Center for Geosciences (GFZ), to produce global gravitational models from satellite tracking measurements of CHAMP and/or GRACE types. Such Earth’s gravitational products have found widest possible multidisciplinary applications in Earth Sciences. The method is essentially implemented by solving the differential equations of the partial derivatives of the orbit of a satellite with respect to the unknown harmonic coefficients under the conditions of zero initial values. From the mathematical and statistical point of view, satellite gravimetry from satellite tracking is essentially the problem of estimating unknown parameters in the Newton’s nonlinear differential equations from satellite tracking measurements. We prove that zero initial values for the partial derivatives are incorrect mathematically and not permitted physically. The numerical integration method, as currently implemented and used in mathematics and statistics, chemistry and physics, and satellite gravimetry, is groundless, mathematically and physically. Given the Newton’s nonlinear governing differential equations of satellite motion with unknown equation parameters and unknown initial conditions, we develop three methods to derive new local solutions around a nominal reference orbit, which are linked to measurements to estimate the unknown corrections to approximate values of the unknown parameters and the unknown initial conditions. Bearing in mind that satellite orbits can now be tracked almost continuously at unprecedented accuracy, we propose the measurement-based perturbation theory and derive global uniformly convergent solutions to the Newton’s nonlinear governing differential equations of satellite motion for the next generation of global gravitational models. Since the solutions are global uniformly convergent, theoretically speaking, they are able to extract smallest possible gravitational signals from modern and future satellite tracking measurements, leading to the production of global high-precision, high-resolution gravitational models. By directly turning the nonlinear differential equations of satellite motion into the nonlinear integral equations, and recognizing the fact that satellite orbits are measured with random errors, we further reformulate the links between satellite tracking measurements and the global uniformly convergent solutions to the Newton’s governing differential equations as a condition adjustment model with unknown parameters, or equivalently, the weighted least squares estimation of unknown differential equation parameters with equality constraints, for the reconstruction of global high-precision, high-resolution gravitational models from modern (and future) satellite tracking measurements.

Number of accesses :  

Other information