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Laser Technology in Interplanetary Exploration: The Past and the FutureLaser technology has been used in planetary exploration for many years but it has only been in the last decade that laser altimeters and ranging systems have been selected as flight instruments alongside cameras, spectrometers, magnetometers, etc. Today we have an active laser system operating at Mars and another destined for the asteroid Eros. A few years ago a laser ranging system on the Clementine mission changed much of our thinking about the moon and in a few years laser altimeters will be on their way to Mercury, and also to Europa. Along with the increased capabilities and reliability of laser systems has came the realization that precision ranging to the surface of planetary bodies from orbiting spacecraft enables more scientific problems to be addressed, including many associated with planetary rotation, librations, and tides. In addition, new Earth-based laser ranging systems working with similar systems on other planetary bodies in an asynchronous transponder mode will be able to make interplanetary ranging measurements at the few cm level and will advance our understanding of solar system dynamics and relativistic physics.
Document ID
20000083420
Document Type
Preprint (Draft being sent to journal)
Authors
Smith, David E. (NASA Goddard Space Flight Center Greenbelt, MD United States)
Date Acquired
August 19, 2013
Publication Date
January 1, 2000
Subject Category
Lunar and Planetary Science and Exploration
Distribution Limits
Public
Copyright
Work of the US Gov. Public Use Permitted.