Space-wise approach to satellite gravity field determination in the presence of coloured noise
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For many years, the gravity field of the Earth was only seen by satellite geodesy as the main factor affecting the orbit and consequently it was retrieved together with a number of other orbital perturbations. Since the advent of a new generation of accelerometers, non-gravitational perturbations can be separated from the gravity effects and a new era of gravity field estimates from space has been born. During preparatory data analysis for new missions performed by the geodetic community, three approaches have been proposed and numerically tested: the brute force method (direct approach), the semi-analytical (time-wise) method and the space-wise method. In particular, the time-wise method takes advantage of the incoming time flow of data and, after performing a Fourier transform of the observation equations, exploits the prevailing block diagonal structure of the normal equations to estimate the spherical harmonic coefficients of the gravity field. Complementary to this is the space-wise approach, which goes back to the traditional computation of the harmonic coefficients by an integration technique or by least-squares collocation. Some advantages and disadvantages are peculiar to both methods, particularly the space-wise approach, which has for a long time ignored the marked signature of the noise spectrum due to the specific measuring conditions of space-borne accelerometers. The application of a proper Wiener filter, exploiting the correlation along the orbit, embedded into an iterative scheme, seems to be the answer. The solution to this major problem of the space-wise approach is illustrated and simulation results are discussed.
KeywordsGravity field determination Satellite gradiometry Space-wise approach Coloured noise Wiener filter
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