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Geophys Res Lett. 2014 Apr 16;41(7):2282-2288. Epub 2014 Apr 4.

Detection of the lunar body tide by the Lunar Orbiter Laser Altimeter.

Author information

1
Department of Earth, Atmospheric, and Planetary Sciences, Massachusetts Institute of Technology Cambridge, Massachusetts, USA ; NASA Goddard Space Flight Center Greenbelt, Maryland, USA.
2
NASA Goddard Space Flight Center Greenbelt, Maryland, USA ; Sigma Space Lanham, Maryland, USA.
3
NASA Goddard Space Flight Center Greenbelt, Maryland, USA.
4
Department of Earth, Atmospheric, and Planetary Sciences, Massachusetts Institute of Technology Cambridge, Massachusetts, USA.

Abstract

The Lunar Orbiter Laser Altimeter instrument onboard the Lunar Reconnaissance Orbiter spacecraft collected more than 5 billion measurements in the nominal 50 km orbit over ∼10,000 orbits. The data precision, geodetic accuracy, and spatial distribution enable two-dimensional crossovers to be used to infer relative radial position corrections between tracks to better than ∼1 m. We use nearly 500,000 altimetric crossovers to separate remaining high-frequency spacecraft trajectory errors from the periodic radial surface tidal deformation. The unusual sampling of the lunar body tide from polar lunar orbit limits the size of the typical differential signal expected at ground track intersections to ∼10 cm. Nevertheless, we reliably detect the topographic tidal signal and estimate the associated Love number h2 to be 0.0371 ± 0.0033, which is consistent with but lower than recent results from lunar laser ranging.

KEY POINTS:

Altimetric data are used to create radial constraints on the tidal deformationThe body tide amplitude is estimated from the crossover dataThe estimated Love number is consistent with previous estimates but more precise.

KEYWORDS:

LOLA; Moon; crossover; tide

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