Analysis of one-way laser ranging data to LRO, time transfer and clock characterization

S. Bauer*, H. Hussmann, J. Oberst, D. Dirkx, D. Mao, G. A. Neumann, E. Mazarico, M. H. Torrence, J. F. McGarry, D. E. Smith, M. T. Zuber

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleScientificpeer-review

11 Citations (Scopus)


We processed and analyzed one-way laser ranging data from International Laser Ranging Service ground stations to NASA's Lunar Reconnaissance Orbiter (LRO), obtained from June 13, 2009 until September 30, 2014. We pair and analyze the one-way range observables from station laser fire and spacecraft laser arrival times by using nominal LRO orbit models based on the GRAIL gravity field. We apply corrections for instrument range walk, as well as for atmospheric and relativistic effects. In total we derived a tracking data volume of ≈ 3000 hours featuring 64 million Full Rate and 1.5 million Normal Point observations. From a statistical analysis of the dataset we evaluate the experiment and the ground station performance. We observe a laser ranging measurement precision of 12.3 cm in case of the Full Rate data which surpasses the LOLA timestamp precision of 15 cm. The averaging to Normal Point data further reduces the measurement precision to 5.6 cm. We characterized the LRO clock with fits throughout the mission time and estimated the rate to 6.9 × 10−8, the aging to 1.6 × 10−12/day and the change of aging to 2.3 × 10−14 /day2over all mission phases. The fits also provide referencing of onboard time to the TDB time scale at a precision of 166 ns over two and 256 ns over all mission phases, representing ground to space time transfer. Furthermore we measure ground station clock differences from the fits as well as from simultaneous passes which we use for ground to ground time transfer from common view observations. We observed relative offsets ranging from 33 to 560 ns and relative rates ranging from 2 × 10−13 to 6 × 10−12 between the ground station clocks during selected mission phases. We study the results from the different methods and discuss their applicability for time transfer.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)38-54
Number of pages17
Publication statusPublished - 1 Feb 2017


  • Laser ranging
  • Lunar Reconnaissance Orbiter
  • One-way
  • time transfer


Dive into the research topics of 'Analysis of one-way laser ranging data to LRO, time transfer and clock characterization'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this