Masses of small bodies

mass estimation of small solar system bodies using radio science data from close flybys


The Radio Science technique enables to estimate the mass and other gravitational parameters of a solar system body from spacecraft observations very precisely. It uses the radio link between ground station and spacecraft. The frequency shift of the radio signal is proportional to the relative velocity change between spacecraft and ground station. If a spacecraft performs a close flyby at a solar system body, the velocity of the spacecraft is changed by the gravitational attraction of the body. If all other contributions on the radio signal are known, the remaining frequency change is solely due to the gravitational attraction. A least square fit can be performed on the frequency residuals to derive from it gravitational parameters. Within this thesis models were developed and merged into a software package with which it is possible to determine the orbit of a spacecraft precisely and to predict accurately the frequency to be observed at a ground station. Models for extracting the frequency shift caused by the propagation of the radio signal through the ionosphere and troposphere of the Earth were incorporated...
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