Test of General Relativity and Measurement of the Lense-Thirring Effect with Two Earth Satellites

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Science  27 Mar 1998:
Vol. 279, Issue 5359, pp. 2100-2103
DOI: 10.1126/science.279.5359.2100

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The Lense-Thirring effect, a tiny perturbation of the orbit of a particle caused by the spin of the attracting body, was accurately measured with the use of the data of two laser-ranged satellites, LAGEOS and LAGEOS II, and the Earth gravitational model EGM-96. The parameter μ, which measures the strength of the Lense-Thirring effect, was found to be 1.1 ± 0.2; general relativity predicts μ ≡ 1. This result represents an accurate test and measurement of one of the fundamental predictions of general relativity, that the spin of a body changes the geometry of the universe by generating space-time curvature.

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