Application of an Artificial Satellite to the Measurement of the General Relativistic "Red Shift"

Phys. Rev. 104, 11 – Published 1 October 1956
S. F. Singer


In view of the paucity of experimental tests for the general theory of relativity, it is desirable to consider the uses to which a satellite vehicle could be put. The advance of the perigee is calculated similarly to the perihelion advance of mercury; it amounts to only 15 seconds of arc per year. However, the effect on a satellite clock is large and could be measured. With respect to an earth clock it is calculated to be a "red shift" for low-altitude orbits, zero shift for an orbit at one-half the earth's radius, and a "violet shift" for higher altitudes, where it approaches 7×10-10.

Some experimental schemes for the measurement of the clock shift are discussed; a counting technique seems to be best suited since it is capable of higher ultimate accuracy and avoids signaling problems during intercomparison arising from the motion of the satellite.


  • Received 4 June 1956
  • Published in the issue dated October 1956

© 1956 The American Physical Society

Authors & Affiliations

S. F. Singer

  • Physics Department, University of Maryland, College Park, Maryland

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