Comparison of MSIS and Jacchia atmospheric density models for orbit determination and propagation

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Akins, Keith A.
Healy, Liam M.
Coffey, Shannon L.
Picone, J. Michael
in Scheeres, Pittelkau, Proulx, Cangahuala, Spaceflight Mechanics 2003: proceedings of the 13th AAS/AIAA Space Flight Mechanics Meeting, Ponce, Puerto Rico 9-13 February 2003, Advances in the Astronautical Sciences vol. 114, pp. 951-970.
Two atmospheric density model families that are commonly chosen for orbit determination and propagation, Jacchia and MSIS, are compared for accuracy. The Jacchia 70 model, the MSISE-90 model, and the NRLMSISE-00 model may each be used to determine orbits over fitspans of several days and then to propagate forward. With observations kept over the propagation period, residuals may be computed and the accuracy of each model evaluated. We have performed this analysis for over 4000 cataloged satellites with perigee below 1000km for September-­October 1999, and the 60 HASDM calibration satellites with a large observation set for February 2001. The purpose of this study is to form a picture of the relative merits of the drag models in a comprehensive view, using all satellites in a manner consistent with the operational practice of US space surveillance centers. A further goal is to refine this knowledge to understand the orbital parameter regions where one of the models may be consistently superior.