Center-of-mass corrections for sub-cm-precision laser-ranging targets: Starlette, Stella and LARES


To realize the full potential of satellite laser ranging for accurate geodesy, it is crucial that all systematic effects in the measurements are taken into account. This paper derives new values for the so-called center-of-mass corrections for three geodetic satellites that are regularly tracked and used in geodetic studies. Optical responses of the twin satellites, Starlette and Stella, and the LARES satellite are retrieved from kHz single-photon laser-ranging data observed at Herstmonceux and Potsdam. The detection timing inside single-photon systems, C-SPAD-based systems and photomultiplier-based systems is numerically simulated, and the center-of-mass corrections are derived to be in the range of 74 to 82 mm for Starlette and Stella, and 127–135 mm for LARES. The system dependence is below 1 cm, but should not be ignored for millimeter accuracy. The longtime standard center-of-mass correction 75 mm of Starlette and Stella is revealed to be too small for the current laser-ranging stations on average, which is considered to have resulted in a non-negligible systematic error in geodetic products.

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This work was supported by JSPS KAKENHI Grant Number 26400449.

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Correspondence to Toshimichi Otsubo.

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Otsubo, T., Sherwood, R.A., Appleby, G.M. et al. Center-of-mass corrections for sub-cm-precision laser-ranging targets: Starlette, Stella and LARES. J Geod 89, 303–312 (2015).

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  • Satellite laser ranging
  • Optical response
  • Starlette
  • Stella