First principles used in orbital prediction and an atmospheric model comparison
Bowden, Brian E.
Olsen, Richard Christopher
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This thesis develops an orbital prediction model based on fundamental principles of orbital dynamics and drag. A FORTRAN based orbital prediction scheme was designed to provide accurate ephemerides for a particular DoD satellite program. The satellite program under study has satellites at 650 and 800 kilometers with high inclinations. In order to obtain the highest accuracy possible, a comparison of atmospheric models had to be conducted in order to determine which model was more accurate. Mathematical formulation for three widely used earth atmospheric models are presented; the JACCHIA 60, JACCHIA 7 1, and MSIS 86 atmospheric models. The MSIS 86 atmospheric model was not evaluated due to computer problems. Comparison of the two JACCHIA models proved that the JACCHIA 71 model provided much more accurate ephemerides. It is believed that this is due not only to the incorporation of variations in density caused by solar flux, but also geomagnetic activity and a better modeling of the polar regions. Further work on this project would include incorporation of the MSIS 86 model for evaluation, incorporation of the full WGS-84 geopotential model, and using more accurate observed vectors in order to obtain a better comparison. Incorporating a subroutine which will vary the B-factor as a function of latitude will greatly increase accuracy. This is a major deviation from current operational practice, in that the B-factor is often used as an error catch-all and does not truly represent its dynamical purpose
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