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GRACE Follow‐On Laser Ranging Interferometer Measurements Uniquely Distinguish Short‐Wavelength Gravitational Perturbations

Ghobadi-Far, Khosro and Han, Shin-Chan and McCullough, Christopher M. and Wiese, David N. and Yuan, Dah-Ning and Landerer, Felix W. and Sauber, Jeanne and Watkins, Michael M. (2020) GRACE Follow‐On Laser Ranging Interferometer Measurements Uniquely Distinguish Short‐Wavelength Gravitational Perturbations. Geophysical Research Letters, 47 (16). Art. No. e2020GL089445. ISSN 0094-8276. doi:10.1029/2020gl089445.

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We examined the first-ever laser ranging interferometer (LRI) measurements of inter-satellite tracking acquired by Gravity Recovery and Climate Experiment (GRACE) Follow-On satellites. Through direct along-orbit analysis of instantaneous inter-satellite measurements, we demonstrate the higher sensitivity of LRI (than K-band microwave ranging [KBR]) to anomalies associated with the Earth static gravity field at high spatial resolutions of 100–200 km. We found that LRI captures gravitational signals as small as 0.1 nm/s² at 490 km altitude, improved by 1 order of magnitude from KBR. This allows LRI to uniquely detect un-/mis-modeled short-wavelength gravitational perturbations. We employed all LRI data in 2019 to validate various state-of-the-art global static gravity field models and show that LRI measurements, even over 1 month, can distinguish subtle differences among the models computed from ~15 years of GRACE KBR and ~4 years of Gravity Field and Steady-State Ocean Circulation Explorer (GOCE) gradiometry data. Ultra-precise LRI measurements will be yet another critical data set for future gravity field model development.

Item Type:Article
Related URLs:
URLURL TypeDescription
Ghobadi-Far, Khosro0000-0001-8146-252X
Han, Shin-Chan0000-0003-1810-1670
McCullough, Christopher M.0000-0001-7424-8349
Wiese, David N.0000-0001-7035-0514
Yuan, Dah-Ning0000-0001-9047-4063
Landerer, Felix W.0000-0003-2678-095X
Sauber, Jeanne0000-0002-3620-0712
Watkins, Michael M.0000-0001-7524-4833
Additional Information:This work was funded by The University of Newcastle and NASA's GRACE Follow-On science team project. Science team funding was provided by NASA (GRACERFO19-0010) to Jeanne Sauber. We thank Gerhard Heinzel, Henry Wegener, and Vitali Müller at Albert Einstein Institute for answering our questions on LRI data spectrum. We thank the two anonymous reviewers for their thoughtful and constructive comments which led to a clearer presentation of our work. Data Availability Statement. The GRACE-FO Level-1B and Level-2 data used in this study are publicly available (at, and Earth static gravity field models are available online (at
Group:Division of Geological and Planetary Sciences, GALCIT
Funding AgencyGrant Number
University of NewcastleUNSPECIFIED
Issue or Number:16
Record Number:CaltechAUTHORS:20230307-21903000.2
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Usage Policy:No commercial reproduction, distribution, display or performance rights in this work are provided.
ID Code:119684
Deposited By: George Porter
Deposited On:08 Mar 2023 03:24
Last Modified:08 Mar 2023 03:24

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