Lunar and Solar Perturbations on Satellite Orbits

Science  18 Dec 1959:
Vol. 130, Issue 3390, pp. 1710-1711
DOI: 10.1126/science.130.3390.1710


Calculations of the solar and lunar effects on highly eccentric satellite orbits show that the sun and the moon may cause large changes in perigee height over extended periods of time. The amplitude and sign of the perigee height variations depend on the orbit parameters and the hour of launch; for a typical orbit and various choices of launch time, the perigee height will either rise or fall at the rate of 1 km/day over the course of several months. These results may be significant in deciding the launch conditions for future satellites with highly eccentric orbits.