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Post Info TOPIC: LEnse-Thirring Sun-Geo Orbiter


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LEnse-Thirring Sun-Geo Orbiter

Title:  LETSGO: a spacecraft-based mission to accurately measure the solar angular momentum with frame-dragging
Authors: Lorenzo Iorio

LETSGO (LEnse-Thirring Sun-Geo Orbiter) is a proposed space-based mission involving the use of a spacecraft moving along a highly eccentric heliocentric orbit perpendicular to the ecliptic. It aims to accurately measure some important physical properties of the Sun and to test some post-Newtonian features of its gravitational field by continuously monitoring the Earth-probe range. Preliminary sensitivity analyses show that, by assuming a cm-level accuracy in ranging to the spacecraft, it would be possible to detect, in principle, the Lense-Thirring effect on it at a 10^-3-10^-4 level over a timescale of 2 yr, while the larger Schwarzschild component of the solar gravitational field may be sensed with a relative accuracy of about 10^-8-10^-9 during the same temporal interval. The competing range perturbation due to the non-sphericity of the Sun would be a source of systematic error, but it turns out that all the three dynamical features of motion examined affect the Earth-probe range in different ways, allowing for a separation in data analyses. The high eccentricity would help in reducing the impact of the non-gravitational perturbations whose impact would certainly be severe when LETSGO would approach the Sun at just a few solar radii. Further studies should be devoted to investigate both the consequences of the non-conservative forces and the actual measurability of the effects of interest by means of extensive numerical data simulations, parameter estimations and covariance analyses.

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