9 Concluding Comments

This paper discussed the principles of operation and status of spacecraft Doppler tracking, the current-generation GW detector technology in the ∼ 10–6 to 10–1 Hz band. Doppler tracking differs from all other currently-operating detectors in that the size of the apparatus (earth-spacecraft distance) is large compared with the GW wavelength. As a consequence times-of-flight of GWs and radio waves through the apparatus are important, resulting in a three-pulse signal response and various two-pulse noise responses. The different signal and noise transfer functions suggest data analysis approaches for various waveforms; some of these approaches were outlined here. The sensitivity of current-generation Doppler observations was discussed as well as what would be required to improve this sensitivity by another order of magnitude (to ∼ 10–17 for sinusoidal waves). Further large sensitivity improvements in the low-frequency band will require dedicated multi-spacecraft arrays in space. Until such a dedicated mission flys, spacecraft tracking will provide the best observational capability in the low-frequency GW band.

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