19 Apr 2022
19 Apr 2022
Status: this preprint is currently under review for the journal HGSS.

A Review of Different Mascon Approaches for Regional Gravity Field Modelling since 1968

Markus Antoni Markus Antoni
  • Institute of Geodesy, University of Stuttgart, Geschwister-Scholl-Str. 24D, D-70174 Stuttgart, Germany

Abstract. The geodetic and geophysical literature shows an abundance of mascon approaches for modelling the gravity field of Moon or Earth on global or regional scale. This article illustrates the differences and similarities of the methods, which are labelled as mascon approaches by their authors.

Point mass mascons and planar disc mascons were developed for modelling the Lunar gravity field from Doppler tracking data. These early models had to consider restrictions in observation geometry, computational resources or geographical pre-knowledge, which influenced the implementation. Mascon approaches were later adapted and applied for the analysis of GRACE-observations of the Earth’s gravity field with the most recent methods based on the simple layer potential.

Differences among the methods relate to the geometry of the mascon patches and in the implementation of the gradient and potential for the field analysis and synthesis. Most mascon approaches provide a direct link between observation and mascon parameter –usually the surface density or the mass of an element–, while some methods serve as a post processing tool of spherical harmonic solutions. This article provides an historical overview of the different mascon approaches and sketches their properties from theoretical perspective.

Markus Antoni

Status: final response (author comments only)

Comment types: AC – author | RC – referee | CC – community | EC – editor | CEC – chief editor | : Report abuse
  • RC1: 'Comment on hgss-2022-4', Anonymous Referee #1, 26 Apr 2022
    • AC1: 'Reply on RC1', Markus Antoni, 30 Apr 2022
  • RC2: 'Comment on hgss-2022-4', Anonymous Referee #2, 16 Jun 2022
    • AC2: 'Reply on RC2', Markus Antoni, 17 Jun 2022
      • EC1: 'Reply on AC2', Johannes Ihde, 01 Jul 2022

Markus Antoni

Markus Antoni


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Short summary
The term mascon either refers to the fact of a significant gravity anomaly within a celestial body, or to a modelling of these gravitational anomalies by localizing base functions. The localizing base functions which are labelled as mascons include point masses or surface elements based on the simple layer representation. In case of surface elements, the surface density is constant per mascon and each localizing base function is a two-dimensional step function on the sphere.