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We introduce splines for the approximation of harmonic functions on a 3-dimensional ball. Those splines are combined with a multiresolution concept. More precisely, at each step of improving the approximation we add more data and, at the same time, reduce the hat-width of the used spline basis functions. Finally, a convergence theorem is proved. One possible application, that is discussed in detail, is the reconstruction of the Earth´s density distribution from gravitational data obtained at a satellite orbit. This is an exponentially ill-posed problem where only the harmonic part of the density can be recovered since its orthogonal complement has the potential 0. Whereas classical approaches use a truncated singular value decomposition (TSVD) with the well-known disadvantages like the non-localizing character of the used spherical harmonics and the bandlimitedness of the solution, modern regularization techniques use wavelets allowing a localized reconstruction via convolutions with kernels that are only essentially large in the region of interest. The essential remaining drawback of a TSVD and the wavelet approaches is that the integrals (i.e. the inner product in case of a TSVD and the convolution in case of wavelets) are calculated on a spherical orbit, which is not given in reality. Thus, simplifying modelling assumptions, that certainly include a modelling error, have to be made. The splines introduced here have the important advantage, that the given data need not be located on a sphere but may be (almost) arbitrarily distributed in the outer space of the Earth. This includes, in particular, the possibility to mix data from different satellite missions (different orbits, different derivatives of the gravitational potential) in the calculation of the Earth´s density distribution. Moreover, the approximating splines can be calculated at varying resolution scales, where the differences for increasing the resolution can be computed with the introduced spline-wavelet technique.

This paper provides a brief overview of two linear inverse problems concerned with the determination of the Earth’s interior: inverse gravimetry and normal mode tomography. Moreover, a vector spline method is proposed for a combined solution of both problems. This method uses localised basis functions, which are based on reproducing kernels, and is related to approaches which have been successfully applied to the inverse gravimetric problem and the seismic traveltime tomography separately.

The mathematical formulation of many physical problems results in the task of inverting a compact operator. The only known sensible solution technique is regularization which poses a severe problem in itself. Classically one dealt with deterministic noise models and required both the knowledge of smoothness of the solution function and the overall error behavior. We will show that we can guarantee an asymptotically optimal regularization for a physically motivated noise model under no assumptions for the smoothness and rather weak assumptions on the noise behavior which can mostly obtained out of two input data sets. An application to the determination of the gravitational field out of satellite data will be shown.