Sensitivity analysis of polar orbiter motion to lunar viscoelastic tidal deformation

Xuanyu Hu*, Alexander Stark, Dominic Dirkx, Hauke Hussmann, Agnès Fienga, Arthur Briaud, Anthony Mémin, Daniele Melini, Marie Fayolle, More Authors

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleScientificpeer-review

12 Downloads (Pure)


We investigate the impact of viscoelastic tidal deformation of the Moon on the motion of a polar orbiter. The dissipative effects in the Moon’s interior, i.e., tidal phase lags, are modeled as Fourier series sampled at given frequencies associated with linear combinations of Delaunay arguments, the fundamental parameters describing the lunar motion around the Earth and the Sun. We implement the tidal model to evaluate the temporal lunar gravity field and the induced perturbation on the orbiter. We validate the numerical scheme via a frequency analysis of the perturbed orbital motion. We show that, in the case of the Lunar Reconnaissance Orbiter at a low altitude of less than 200 km, the main lunar tides and hence the potential Love numbers around the monthly and some multiple frequencies are dynamically separable. The omission of those effects in practice introduces a position error at the level of a few decimeters within 10 days.

Original languageEnglish
Article number16
Number of pages23
JournalCelestial Mechanics and Dynamical Astronomy
Issue number2
Publication statusPublished - 2023


  • Lunar orbiter
  • Moon
  • Sensitivity
  • Tidal deformation
  • Viscoelasticity

Cite this