Enabling Planetary Geodesy With the Deep Space Network
Wednesday, 16 December 2015: 16:00
2011 (Moscone West)
For five decades of planetary exploration, missions have carried out Radio Science experiments that led to numerous discoveries in planetary geodesy. The interior structures of many planets, large moons, asteroids and comet nuclei have been modeled based on their gravitational fields and dynamical parameters derived from precision Doppler and range measurements, often called radio metrics. Advanced instrumentation has resulted in the high level of data quality that enabled scientific breakthroughs. This instrumentation scheme, however, is distributed between elements on the spacecraft and others at the stations of the Deep Space Network (DSN), making the DSN a world-class science instrument. The design and performance of the DSN stations directly determines the quality of the science observables and radio link-based planetary geodesy observations are established by methodologies and capabilities of the DSN. In this paper, we summarize major recent discoveries in planetary geodesy at the rocky planets and the Moon, Saturnian and Jovian satellites, Phobos, and Vesta; experiments and analysis in progress at Ceres and Pluto; upcoming experiments at Jupiter, Saturn and Mars (InSight), and the long-term outlook for approved future missions with geodesy objectives. The DSN’s role will be described along the technical advancements in DSN transmitters, receivers, atomic clocks, and other specialized instrumentation, such as the Advanced Water Vapor Radiometer, Advanced Ranging Instrument, as well as relevant mechanical and electrical components. Advanced techniques for calibrations of known noise sources and Earth’s troposphere, ionosphere, and interplanetary plasma are also presented. A typical error budget will be presented to aid future investigations in carrying out trade-off studies in the end-to-end system performance.