Journal of Geodesy

, Volume 86, Issue 3, pp 193–207 | Cite as

Orbit determination of the Lunar Reconnaissance Orbiter

  • Erwan MazaricoEmail author
  • D. D. Rowlands
  • G. A. Neumann
  • D. E. Smith
  • M. H. Torrence
  • F. G. Lemoine
  • M. T. Zuber
Original Article


We present the results on precision orbit determination from the radio science investigation of the Lunar Reconnaissance Orbiter (LRO) spacecraft. We describe the data, modeling and methods used to achieve position knowledge several times better than the required 50–100 m (in total position), over the period from 13 July 2009 to 31 January 2011. In addition to the near-continuous radiometric tracking data, we include altimetric data from the Lunar Orbiter Laser Altimeter (LOLA) in the form of crossover measurements, and show that they strongly improve the accuracy of the orbit reconstruction (total position overlap differences decrease from ~70 m to ~23 m). To refine the spacecraft trajectory further, we develop a lunar gravity field by combining the newly acquired LRO data with the historical data. The reprocessing of the spacecraft trajectory with that model shows significantly increased accuracy (~20 m with only the radiometric data, and ~14 m with the addition of the altimetric crossovers). LOLA topographic maps and calibration data from the Lunar Reconnaissance Orbiter Camera were used to supplement the results of the overlap analysis and demonstrate the trajectory accuracy.


Moon Orbit determination Gravity Altimetric crossover Geodesy 


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Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag 2011

Authors and Affiliations

  • Erwan Mazarico
    • 1
    • 2
    Email author
  • D. D. Rowlands
    • 2
  • G. A. Neumann
    • 2
  • D. E. Smith
    • 1
    • 2
  • M. H. Torrence
    • 2
    • 3
  • F. G. Lemoine
    • 2
  • M. T. Zuber
    • 1
  1. 1.Massachusetts Institute of TechnologyCambridgeUSA
  2. 2.NASA Goddard Space Flight CenterPlanetary Geodynamics LaboratoryGreenbeltUSA
  3. 3.S.G.T. Inc.GreenbeltUSA

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