Determination of the Earth's Gravitational Field

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Science  26 Feb 1960:
Vol. 131, Issue 3400, pp. 607-608
DOI: 10.1126/science.131.3400.607


Brenner et al. have pointed out that spurious variations may be introduced into computation of satellite orbits by a combination of the use of osculating elements and a maldistribution of the observations. They suggest that this circumstance is the source of the eccentricity variations in the Vanguard I orbit which have been attributed to the third zonal harmonic. This criticism is based on a misunderstanding of the Vanguard orbit and tracking programs. The source materials for our study of the third zonal harmonic were not osculating elements, and the observations were in fact uniformly distributed around the Vanguard I orbit.