Drag coefficient modeling for grace using Direct Simulation Monte Carlo

Piyush M. Mehta, Craig A. McLaughlin, Eric K. Sutton

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

36 Scopus citations


Drag coefficient is a major source of uncertainty in predicting the orbit of a satellite in low Earth orbit (LEO). Computational methods like the Test Particle Monte Carlo (TPMC) and Direct Simulation Monte Carlo (DSMC) are important tools in accurately computing physical drag coefficients. However, the methods are computationally expensive and cannot be employed real time. Therefore, modeling of the physical drag coefficient is required. This work presents a technique of developing parameterized drag coefficients models using the DSMC method. The technique is validated by developing a model for the Gravity Recovery and Climate Experiment (GRACE) satellite. Results show that drag coefficients computed using the developed model for GRACE agree to within 1% with those computed using DSMC.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)2035-2051
Number of pages17
JournalAdvances in Space Research
Issue number12
StatePublished - Dec 15 2013

Bibliographical note

Funding Information:
Funding was provided equally by the Department of Defense Experimental Program to Stimulate Competitive Research (DEPSCoR) Grant FA9550-10-1-0038 administered by the Air Force Office of Scientific Research and by the US Department of Energy through the Los Alamos National Laboratory/Laboratory Directed Research and Development program as part of the IMPACT (Integrated Modeling of Perturbations in Atmospheres for Conjunction Tracking) project. The authors would also like to thank Vivek Ram, graduate student at the University of Kansas, for his help with developing the high-fidelity GRACE CAD model.


  • Direct Simulation Monte Carlo
  • Drag coefficient

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