The year 1996 will mark the initiation of a number of new space missions to the planet Mars from which we expect to obtain a rich set of data, including spacecraft radio tracking data. Anticipating these events, we have analyzed the feasibility of testing a violation of the strong equivalence principle (SEP) with Earth-Mars ranging. Using analytic and numerical methods, we have demonstrated that ranging data can provide a useful estimate of the SEP parameter $\eta$. Two estimates of the predicted accuracy are quoted, one based on conventional covariance analysis, and the other based on ``modified worst case'' analysis, which assumes that systematic errors dominate the experiment. If future Mars missions provide ranging measurements with an accuracy of $\sigma$ meters, after ten years of ranging the expected accuracy for the parameter $\eta$ will be of order $\sigma_\eta\approx (1-12)\times 10^{-4}\sigma $. In addition, these ranging measurements will provide a significantly improved determination of the mass of the Jupiter system, independent of the test of the {\small SEP} polarization effect. (Refer to PDF file for exact formulas.)

Date of creation, presentation, or exhibit



"Testing the Strong Equivalence Principle with Mars Ranging Data," Proceedings of the Second William Fairbank Conference. Held at Hong Kong Polytechnic: Hong Kong: 13-16 December 1993. AND also archived at: arXiv:astro-ph/9510157 v1 31 Oct 1995 MG acknowledges the partial support of an AWU-JPL sabbatical fellowship. KLN was supported in part by the National Aeronautics and Space Administration through Contract NASW-4840. SGT was supported by the National Research Council under a Resident Research Associateship at JPL. JDA and ELL acknowledge that the research described in this paper was carried out by the Jet Propulsion Laboratory, California Institute of Technology, and was sponsored by the Ultraviolet, Visible, and Gravitational Astrophysics Research and Analysis Program through an agreement with the National Aeronautics and Space Administration.Note: imported from RIT’s Digital Media Library running on DSpace to RIT Scholar Works in February 2014.

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Conference Proceeding

Department, Program, or Center

School of Physics and Astronomy (COS)


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