BepiColombo ESA/JAXA mission is currently in its 7 year cruise phase towards Mercury. The Mercury orbiter radioscience experiment (MORE), one of the 16 experiments of the mission, will start its scientific investigation during the superior solar conjunction (SSC) in March 2021 with a test of general relativity (GR). Other solar conjunctions will follow during the cruise phase, providing several opportunities to improve the results of the first experiment. MORE radio tracking system allows to establish precise ranging and Doppler measurements almost at all solar elongation angles (up to 7-8 solar radii), thus providing an accurate measurement of the relativistic time delay and frequency shift experienced by a radio signal during an SSC. The final objective of the experiment is to place new limits to the accuracy of the GR as a theory of gravity in the weak-field limit. As in all gravity experiments, non-gravitational accelerations acting on the spacecraft are a major concern. Because of the proximity to the Sun, the spacecraft will undergo severe solar radiation pressure acceleration, and the effect of the random fluctuations of the solar irradiance may become a significant source of spacecraft buffeting. In this paper we address the problem of a realistic estimate of the outcome of the SSC experiments of BepiColombo, by including in the dynamical model the effects of random variations in the solar irradiance. We propose a numerical method to mitigate the impact of the variable solar radiation pressure on the outcome of the experiment. Our simulations show that, with different assumptions on the solar activity and observation coverage, the accuracy attainable in the estimation of γ lays in the range [6-13] ×10−6.

The BepiColombo solar conjunction experiments revisited / di Stefano, I.; Cappuccio, P.; Iess, L.. - In: CLASSICAL AND QUANTUM GRAVITY. - ISSN 0264-9381. - 38:5(2021). [10.1088/1361-6382/abd301]

The BepiColombo solar conjunction experiments revisited

di Stefano I.
;
Cappuccio P.;Iess L.
2021

Abstract

BepiColombo ESA/JAXA mission is currently in its 7 year cruise phase towards Mercury. The Mercury orbiter radioscience experiment (MORE), one of the 16 experiments of the mission, will start its scientific investigation during the superior solar conjunction (SSC) in March 2021 with a test of general relativity (GR). Other solar conjunctions will follow during the cruise phase, providing several opportunities to improve the results of the first experiment. MORE radio tracking system allows to establish precise ranging and Doppler measurements almost at all solar elongation angles (up to 7-8 solar radii), thus providing an accurate measurement of the relativistic time delay and frequency shift experienced by a radio signal during an SSC. The final objective of the experiment is to place new limits to the accuracy of the GR as a theory of gravity in the weak-field limit. As in all gravity experiments, non-gravitational accelerations acting on the spacecraft are a major concern. Because of the proximity to the Sun, the spacecraft will undergo severe solar radiation pressure acceleration, and the effect of the random fluctuations of the solar irradiance may become a significant source of spacecraft buffeting. In this paper we address the problem of a realistic estimate of the outcome of the SSC experiments of BepiColombo, by including in the dynamical model the effects of random variations in the solar irradiance. We propose a numerical method to mitigate the impact of the variable solar radiation pressure on the outcome of the experiment. Our simulations show that, with different assumptions on the solar activity and observation coverage, the accuracy attainable in the estimation of γ lays in the range [6-13] ×10−6.
2021
BepiColombo; general relativity; orbit determination; post-Newtonian parameters; radio science; relativistic time delay
01 Pubblicazione su rivista::01a Articolo in rivista
The BepiColombo solar conjunction experiments revisited / di Stefano, I.; Cappuccio, P.; Iess, L.. - In: CLASSICAL AND QUANTUM GRAVITY. - ISSN 0264-9381. - 38:5(2021). [10.1088/1361-6382/abd301]
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Utilizza questo identificativo per citare o creare un link a questo documento: https://hdl.handle.net/11573/1491395
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