The solar system is the classical laboratory for testing the laws of gravity. Many of the most important tests of general relativity have been made using solar-system bodies. These include tests based on the advance of the perihelion of Mercury, the deflection of starlight passing near the Sun, the Shapiro time delay to the Viking landers, the frequency shift of signals to the Cassini spacecraft, and the (lack of) violation of the equivalence principle manifest by the motion of the Moon (Nordtvedt effect). Planetary Laser Ranging (PLR) promises to open up a new era of tests by yielding a major advance in the measurement of the distance between Earth and a planet. We present the results of a series of covariance studies that include the massive SAO set of solar-system data augmented by PLR pseudo-data under a variety of assumptions. In particular, we consider PLR to Mars and its contribution to a time-delay test, to the measurement of the relativistic advance of planetary perihelia, and to the bound on the time-variation of the strength of the gravitational interaction (G), as measured in a system of units defined by atomic processes (e.g., using atomic time). We find a time-delay test approaching a part in 107 in a multi-year experiment.
PROJECT PAN-STARRS AND THE OUTER SOLAR SYSTEM
Institute for Astronomy, 2680 Woodlawn Drive, Honolulu, HI 96822, USA
Abstract. Pan-STARRS, a funded project to repeatedly survey the entire visible sky to faint limiting
magnitudes (mR ! 24), will have a substantial impact on the study of the Kuiper Belt and outer solar
system. We briefly review the Pan-STARRS design philosophy and sketch some of the planetary
science areas in which we expect this facility to make its mark. Pan-STARRS will find !20,000
Kuiper Belt Objects within the first year of operation and will obtain accurate astrometry for all of
them on a weekly or faster cycle. We expect that it will revolutionise our knowledge of the contents...