On the effects of each term of the geopotential perturbation along the time I: Quasi-circular orbits
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This paper provides a useful new method to determine minimum and maximum range of values for the degree and order of the geopotential coefficients required for simulations of orbits of satellites around the Earth. The method consists in a time integration of the perturbing acceleration coming from each harmonic of the geopotential during a time interval T. More precisely, this integral represents the total velocity contribution of a specific harmonic during the period T. Therefore, for a pre-fixed minimum contribution, for instance 1 x 10(-8) m/s during the period of time T, any harmonic whose contribution is below this value can, safely, be neglected. This fact includes some constraints in the degree and order of the terms which are present in the geopotential formula, saving computational efforts compared to the integration of the full model. The advantage of this method is the consideration of other perturbations in the dynamics (we consider the perturbations of the Sun, the Moon, and the direct solar radiation pressure with eclipses), since these forces affect the value of the perturbation of the geopotential, because these perturbations depend on the trajectory of the spacecraft, that is dependent on the dynamical model used. In this paper, we work with quasi-circular orbits and we present several simulations showing the bounds for the maximum degree and order (M) that should be used in the geopotential for different situations, e. g., for a satellite near 500 km of altitude (like the GRACE satellites at the beginning of their mission) we found 35 <= M <= 198 for T = 1 day. We analyzed the individual contribution of the second order harmonic (J(2)) and we use its behavior as a parameter to determine the lower limit of the number of terms of the geopotential model. In order to test the accuracy of our truncated model, we calculate the mean squared error between this truncated model and the "full" model, using the CBERS (China-Brazil Earth Resources Satellite) satellite in this test. (C) 2014 COSPAR. Published by Elsevier Ltd. All rights reserved.