EGU24-6189, updated on 08 Mar 2024
EGU General Assembly 2024
© Author(s) 2024. This work is distributed under
the Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 License.

Contribution of LARES-2 to the realization of reference frames, deriving Earth rotation and gravity field parameters

Krzysztof Sośnica, Filip Gałdyn, Joanna Najder, Radosław Zajdel, and Dariusz Strugarek
Krzysztof Sośnica et al.
  • Wroclaw University of Environmental and Life Sciences, Institute of Geodesy and Geoinformatics, Wroclaw, Poland (

LAser RElativity Satellite 2 (LARES-2) successfully joined the constellation of geodetic satellites tracked by Satellite Laser Ranging (SLR) stations on July 13, 2022. LARES-2 has a spherical shape and a very favorable area-to-mass ratio that minimizes the non-gravitational orbit perturbations. Due to very small retroreflectors, the spread of center-of-mass corrections for different detectors installed at SLR sites is much smaller than for LAGEOS satellites. LARES-2 orbits at a similar height as LAGEOS-1, however, with a complementary inclination angle of 70° forming a butterfly configuration together with LAGEOS-1.

Although the primary objective of LARES-2 is verification of the Lense-Thirring effect emerging from general relativity, the satellite also has a substantial impact on the geodetic parameters derived from SLR observations. We process 18 months of LARES-2 data and compare the LAGEOS-1/2 solutions with the combined LAGEOS-1/2+LARES-2 solutions. We show the impact of LARES-2 on the (1) SLR station coordinates, (2) pole coordinates, (3) length-of-day excess, (4) low-degree gravity field parameters focusing on C20 and C30 coefficients, (5) scale of the reference frame, (6) geocenter motion. We show that LARES-2 can especially improve the Z component of the geocenter coordinates and de-correlate C20 from the length-of-day parameter. The secular drifts of the ascending nodes for LARES-1 and LAGEOS-1 caused by C20 are the same in terms of absolute values but with opposite signs. This allows us to successfully separate the measurements of length-of-day excess (or the UT rate) from the C20-induced changes. We also analyze the empirical accelerations acting on LARES-2 which result from unmodeled non-gravitational orbit perturbations, such as thermal effects, and compare them to those observed for LAGEOS satellites. The observation geometry of LARES-2 is especially beneficial for stations located at high and medium latitudes, which allows it to improve the estimation of station coordinates provided by LAGEOS-1/2. Therefore, LARES-2 substantially contributes not only to general relativity and fundamental physics but also to space geodesy improving the future realizations of the international terrestrial reference frames.

How to cite: Sośnica, K., Gałdyn, F., Najder, J., Zajdel, R., and Strugarek, D.: Contribution of LARES-2 to the realization of reference frames, deriving Earth rotation and gravity field parameters, EGU General Assembly 2024, Vienna, Austria, 14–19 Apr 2024, EGU24-6189,, 2024.