Space Laser Gravimetry

Space Laser Gravimetry

Advancing laser interferometry for accelerometers and inter-satellite ranging, enabling more accurate measurements of Earth’s gravity field.


  • Study and develop novel concepts for inertial sensing and inter-satellite ranging using laser interferometry in order to improve measurements of Earth’s gravity field
    • Optical accelerometers and gradiometers
    • Alternative optical layouts for laser ranging systems
  • Investigate new measurement channels that contain gravity field information based on
    • Clocks
    • Centrifugal acceleration sensing
  • Experimental demonstration of optical accelerometers and inter-satellite ranging interferometers for future geodesy missions
    • Torsion balance facility
  • Data analysis for the Laser Ranging Interferometer on GRACE Follow-On
    • Processing of ranging data with sub-nanometer precision level


  • Space missions & payloads
  • Laser interferometry
  • Torsion balance facility
  • Data analysis

Scientific Output

  • Publications

    HosseiniArani SA, Tennstedt B, Schilling M, Knabe A, Wu H, Schön S et al. Kalman-Filter Based Hybridization of Classic and Cold Atom Interferometry Accelerometers for Future Satellite Gravity Missions. In Freymueller JT, editor, International Association of Geodesy Symposia. Berlin: Springer Nature. 2022. (International Association of Geodesy Symposia).

    Knabe A, Schilling M, Wu H, Hosseiniarani A, Müller J, Beaufils Q et al. The Benefit of Accelerometers Based on Cold Atom Interferometry for Future Satellite Gravity Missions. In Freymueller JT, editor, International Association of Geodesy Symposia. Berlin: Springer Nature. 2022. (International Association of Geodesy Symposia).

    Yang Y, Yamamoto K, Dovale Álvarez M, Wei D, Esteban Delgado JJ, Jia J et al. On-Axis Optical Bench for Laser Ranging Instruments in Future Gravity Missions. Sensors. 2022 Mar 7;22(5). 2070.

    Meshksar N, Mehmet M, Isleif KS, Heinzel G. Applying differential wave-front sensing and differential power sensing for simultaneous precise and wide-range test-mass rotation measurements. Sensors (Switzerland). 2021 Jan;21(1). 164.

    Yan Y, Müller V, Heinzel G, Zhong M. Revisiting the light time correction in gravimetric missions like GRACE and GRACE follow-on. Journal of Geodesy. 2021 May;95(5). 48.

    Zhong L, Sośnica K, Weigelt M, Liu B, Zou X. Time-Variable Gravity Field from the Combination of HLSST and SLR. Remote sensing. 2021 Sep 2;13(17). 3491.

    Heinzel G, Álvarez MD, Pizzella A, Brause N, Delgado JJE. Tracking Length and Differential-Wavefront-Sensing Signals from Quadrant Photodiodes in Heterodyne Interferometers with Digital Phase-Locked-Loop Readout. Physical Review Applied. 2020 Nov 6;14(5). 054013.



    Müller J, Wu H. Using quantum optical sensors for determining the Earth’s gravity field from space. Journal of geodesy. 2020 Jul 24;94(8). 71.

    Wegener H, Müller V, Heinzel G, Misfeldt M. Tilt-to-length coupling in the grace follow-on laser ranging interferometer. Journal of Spacecraft and Rockets. 2020 Jul 27;57(6):1362-1372.

    Wu H, Müller J. Towards an International Height Reference Frame Using Clock Networks. 2020.

    Yang Y, Yamamoto K, Huarcaya V, Vorndamme C, Penkert D, Barranco GF et al. Single-element dual-interferometer for precision inertial sensing. Sensors (Switzerland). 2020 Sep 3;20(17):1-17. 4986.

    Isleif KS, Heinzel G, Mehmet M, Gerberding O. Compact Multifringe Interferometry with Subpicometer Precision. Physical Review Applied. 2019 Sep 13;12(3). 034025.

    Trimeche A, Battelier B, Becker D, Bertoldi A, Bouyer P, Braxmaier C et al. Concept study and preliminary design of a cold atom interferometer for space gravity gradiometry. Classical and quantum gravity. 2019 Nov;36(21). 215004.


TG Members

  • Involved Members and their Relevant Expertise
    Members Institution Relevant Expertise
    Vitali Müller, Leader AEI/LUH Laser Interferometer modelling; LRI on GRACE-FO and for NGGM; Data Analysis
    Gerhard Heinzel AEI/LUH Space Laser Interferometry
    Dietmar Kracht LZH Advanced Light Sources; Precision Additive Manufacturing of Quantum Sensors; High power solid-state single frequency amplifiers
    Jürgen Müller LUH Relativistic Geodesy; LLR Relativity Test; Application of Quantum Gravimetry
    Esteban Delgado AEI/LUH System engineering and test engineering
    Miguel Dovale AEI/LUH DFM, Prism-Optical Head modeling, optical readout design and testbed development
    Christoph Bode AEI/LUH DFM, readout and control electronics
    German Fernandez-Barranco AEI/LUH Photoreceiver
    Kohei Yamamoto AEI/LUH DFM, optical simulation, readout electronics and control electronics
    Moritz Mehmet AEI/LUH Torsion Balance
    Gerald Bergmann AEI/LUH Readout of Torsion Balance, Seismic Noise
    Victor Huarcaya AEI/LUH Testbed development (Torsion Balance)
    Malte Misfeldt AEI/LUH Data analysis for GRACE-FO LRI
    Laura Müller AEI/LUH Data analysis for GRACE-FO LRI
    Henry Wegener AEI/LUH Data analysis for GRACE-FO LRI, Tilt-To-Length Coupling
    Karsten Danzmann AEI/LUH LISA, Gravitational Wave Astronomy
    Arthur Reis AEI/LUH TerraQ B01, Accelerometer Modelling
    Stefano Gozzo AEI/LUH TerraQ B05
    Martin Weberpals AEI/LUH NGGM LRI experimental
    Sariga Sachit AEI/LUH TerraQ B04 LRI experimental
    Christoph Gentmann AEI/LUH TerraQ B06 Torsion Balance
    Yihao Yan AEI/LUH GRACE-FO data analysis
    Annike Knabe LUH Attitude Control, cold atom accelerometers
    Alireza HosseiniArani LUH Hybdrid Accelerometers incl. Atom Interferometry
    Matthias Weigelt LUH Application of Gravity Data
    Alexey Kupriyanov LUH TerraQ B01 project: mission concepts with advanced laser technology
    Sahar Ebadi LUH TerraQ C04
    Akbar Shabanloui LUH IFE gravtiy field recovery
    Alexander Koch DLR-SI Laser Ranging Interferometers, Link Acquisition
    Manuel Schilling DLR-SI Novel Measurement Concepts
    Meike List DLR-SI Space Mission Simulator
    Andreas Leipner DLR-SI TerraQ B02 XHPS Space Mission Simulator
    Peter Weßels LZH Laser Development
    Benny Rievers ZARM Space Mission Simulator
    Jens Grosse ZARM Laser Links
    Florian Wöske ZARM XHPS Space Mission Simulator
    Moritz Huckfeldt ZARM TerraQ B02 XHPS
    Timm Wegehaupt ZARM TerraQ B04 Experimental: Laser Frequency Stabilization