The Lunar Reconnaissance Orbiter Laser Ranging Investigation
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The objective of the Lunar Reconnaissance Orbiter (LRO) Laser Ranging (LR) system is to collect precise measurements of range that allow the spacecraft to achieve its requirement for precision orbit determination. The LR will make one-way range measurements via laser pulse time-of-flight from Earth to LRO, and will determine the position of the spacecraft at a sub-meter level with respect to ground stations on Earth and the center of mass of the Moon. Ranging will occur whenever LRO is visible in the line of sight from participating Earth ground tracking stations. The LR consists of two primary components, a flight system and ground system. The flight system consists of a small receiver telescope mounted on the LRO high-gain antenna that captures the uplinked laser signal, and a fiber optic cable that routes the signal to the Lunar Orbiter Laser Altimeter (LOLA) instrument on LRO. The LOLA instrument receiver records the time of the laser signal based on an ultrastable crystal oscillator, and provides the information to the onboard LRO data system for storage and/or transmittal to the ground through the spacecraft radio frequency link. The LR ground system consists of a network of satellite laser ranging stations, a data reception and distribution facility, and the LOLA Science Operations Center. LR measurements will enable the determination of a three-dimensional geodetic grid for the Moon based on the precise seleno-location of ground spots from LOLA.
KeywordsMoon Laser ranging Lunar Reconnaissance Orbiter Orbit determination
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