2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars
An excellent and practical guide, 22 Mar 2004
The authors of this book are with DLR (German space agency) and are to be congratulated on producing a readable, practical and quite in-depth guide to satellite orbits and the methods of orbit determination.
It is refreshing to find a book written by those actively involved in doing such work, and this shows in the advice and guidance that runs through the various chapters on the magnitude of various effects and when they can and cannot be ignored. Ever wondered how many Earth gravity terms are needed for useful accuracy? How they relate to the magnitude of typical atmospheric drag forces? Well, chapter 3 has exercises illustrating this and the accompanying CD-ROM has the source code so you can try variations on the same theme.
Indeed, perhaps the CD-ROM alone is enough to justify buying this book. Most engineers prefer to learn by trying things, and the CD-ROM has working code for a reasonably accurate numerical prediction model. There are a few catches, e.g. they simply "turn off" atmospheric drag below the minimum tabulated height, but otherwise it is a very useful starting point for anyone interested in satellite orbits. It features a 20x20 gravity table and is moderately efficient, although the C++ implementation lets this down a bit (as supplied, around 50% of CPU time is spent on new/delete). However, they generally use a numerical integrator that is effectively based on the slatec ddeabm() subroutine. This is a good choice as it offers automatic control of step size and order, simply doing the job efficiently with little additional user input other than the requested tolerance.
As they are interested in high precision orbit determination they only really consider the numerical integration methods, although they do mention the GPS orbit model in the Appendix. It would have been nice to also have included something about common low precision propagators such as SGP4/SDP4 and Brouwer-Lyddane which are often used for scheduling, etc, but this is a minor criticism.
Another minor criticism is the lack of practical information about common file formats for exchange of orbit data, such as IIRV, but this is more of a personal annoyance as a web search for such data yields little comprehensive answers, other than the occasional cross reference to NASA documents not in general circulation.
In summary, this is one of the best book purchases I have made recently and I would strongly recommend it.