Surveys in Geophysics

, Volume 22, Issue 5–6, pp 491–507 | Cite as

Contributions of Satellite Laser Ranging to Past and Future Radar Altimetry Missions

  • P. Exertier
  • P. Bonnefond
  • J. Nicolas
  • F. Barlier


Satellite laser ranging (SLR) has proven avery efficient method for contributingto the tracking of altimetric satellites anddetermining accurately their orbitalthough hampered by the non-worldwide coverageand the meteorologicalconditions. Indeed, in some cases it is the onlymethod available to determinethe satellite orbit (e.g., the orbits of the ERS-1and Geosat-Follow-On missions).Moreover, any operational and non-weather dependenttechniques, like GPS,DORIS, PRARE, can exhibit systematic errors inpositioning and orbitography. Acomparison with SLR results allows to evidence sucherrors and vice versa. Fordoing that, two different approaches for determiningprecise orbits can beconsidered: one based on global orbit determination,the other on a short-arctechnique used to locally improve a global orbitdetermined by another trackingtechniques, such as DORIS or GPS. We can thusvalidate a global orbit andachieve orbit quality control to a level of2 to 3 centimeters at present and expectto achieve a level of 1 to 2 centimeters inthe near future. Errors induced bystation coordinates or by the gravity field(geographically correlated errors, forexample) can be estimated from SLR tracking data.Colocation experiments withdifferent techniques in the same geodetic siteplay also a key role to ensure preciserelationships between the geodetic referenceframes linked to each technique. Inparticular, the role of the SLR technique is tostrengthen the vertical component(including velocity) of the positioning, whichis crucial for altimetry missions.

The role of SLR data in the modelling of the firstterms of the gravity field has finally to be emphasized,which is of primary importance in orbitography,whatever the tracking technique used.Another application of SLR technology is thesatellite altimeter calibration. Examples of past calibrationand future experiments are given, including theaccuracy we can expect from the Jason-1 and EnviSatspace oceanography missions.

altimetry artificial satellites calibration laser ranging oceanography precise orbit determination reference frames sea level 


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Copyright information

© Kluwer Academic Publishers 2001

Authors and Affiliations

  • P. Exertier
    • 1
  • P. Bonnefond
    • 1
  • J. Nicolas
    • 1
  • F. Barlier
    • 1
  1. 1.Observatoire de la Côte D'Azur, départ. CERGAGrasse

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