Surveys in Geophysics

, Volume 22, Issue 5–6, pp 517–535 | Cite as

Lunar Laser Ranging: Glorious Past And A Bright Future

  • Peter J. Shelus


Lunar Laser Ranging (LLR), a part of the NASA Apollo program, has beenon-going for more than 30 years. It provides the grist for a multi-disciplinarydata analysis mill. Results exist for solid Earth sciences, geodesy and geodynamics,solar system ephemerides, terrestrial and celestial reference frames, lunar physics,general relativity and gravitational theory. Combined with other data, it treatsprecession of the Earth's spin axis, lunar induced nutation, polar motion/Earthrotation, Earth orbit obliquity to the ecliptic, intersection of the celestial equatorwith the ecliptic, luni-solar solid body tides, lunar tidal deceleration, lunar physicaland free librations, structure of the moon and energy dissipation in the lunar interior.LLR provides input to lunar surface cartography and surveying, Earth station and lunar retroreflector location and motion, mass of the Earth-moon system, lunar and terrestrial gravity harmonics and Love numbers, relativistic geodesic precession, and the equivalence principle of general relativity. With the passive nature of the reflectors and steady improvement in observing equipment and data analysis, LLR continues to provide state-of-the-art results. Gains are steady as the data-base expands. After more than 30 years, LLR remains the only active Apollo experiment. It is important to recognize examples of efficient and cost effective progress of research. LLR is just such an example.

gravitation laser ranging lunar physics relativity 


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© Kluwer Academic Publishers 2001

Authors and Affiliations

  • Peter J. Shelus
    • 1
  1. 1.McDonald Observatory/Department of Astronomy/Center for Space ResearchUniversity of Texas at AustinAustinUSA

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