Vol 16, No 10

Relativistic time transfer for a Mars lander: from proper time to Areocentric Coordinate Time

De-Wang Xu, Qing-Shan Yu, Yi Xie


Abstract As the first step in relativistic time transfer for a Mars lander from its proper time to the time scale at the ground station, we investigate the transformation between proper time and Areocentric Coordinate Time (TCA) in the framework of IAU Resolutions. TCA is a local time scale for Mars, which is analogous to the Geocentric Coordinate Time (TCG) for Earth. This transformation contains two contributions: internal and external. The internal contribution comes from the gravitational potential and the rotation of Mars. The external contribution is due to the gravitational fields of other bodies (except Mars) in the Solar System. When the (in)stability of an onboard clock is assumed to be at the level of 10−13, we find that the internal contribution is dominated by the gravitational potential of spherical Mars with necessary corrections associated with the height of the lander on the areoid, the dynamic form factor of Mars, the flattening of the areoid and the spin rate of Mars. For the external contribution, we find the gravitational effects from other bodies in the Solar System can be safely neglected in this case after calculating their maximum values.


Keywords reference systems — time — space vehicles

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