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METRIC: A Dedicated Earth-Orbiting Spacecraft for Investigating Gravitational Physics and the Space Environment

1
Istituto di Astrofisica e Planetologia Spaziali (IAPS-INAF), 00133 Roma, Italy
2
Department of Industrial Engineering and CISAS “Giuseppe Colombo”, University of Padova, 35131 Padova, Italy
*
Author to whom correspondence should be addressed.
Academic Editor: Darren L. Hitt
Aerospace 2017, 4(3), 38; https://doi.org/10.3390/aerospace4030038
Received: 22 May 2017 / Revised: 1 July 2017 / Accepted: 13 July 2017 / Published: 20 July 2017
A dedicated mission in low Earth orbit is proposed to test predictions of gravitational interaction theories and to directly measure the atmospheric density in a relevant altitude range, as well as to provide a metrological platform able to tie different space geodesy techniques. The concept foresees a small spacecraft to be placed in a dawn-dusk eccentric orbit between 450 and 1200 km of altitude. The spacecraft will be tracked from the ground with high precision, and a three-axis accelerometer package on-board will measure the non-gravitational accelerations acting on its surface. Estimates of parameters related to fundamental physics and geophysics should be obtained by a precise orbit determination, while the accelerometer data will be instrumental in constraining the atmospheric density. Along with the mission scientific objectives, a conceptual configuration is described together with an analysis of the dynamical environment experienced by the spacecraft and the accelerometer. View Full-Text
Keywords: fundamental physics; general relativity; space environment; atmospheric density; International Terrestrial Reference Frame; measurement of acceleration; satellite laser ranging; global navigation satellite systems fundamental physics; general relativity; space environment; atmospheric density; International Terrestrial Reference Frame; measurement of acceleration; satellite laser ranging; global navigation satellite systems
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Peron, R.; Lorenzini, E.C. METRIC: A Dedicated Earth-Orbiting Spacecraft for Investigating Gravitational Physics and the Space Environment. Aerospace 2017, 4, 38.

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