|Instrument: LASER TRACKING REFLECTOR|
Earth Remote Sensing Instruments
Instrument Class: Passive Remote Sensing
Instrument Type: Positioning/Navigation
Instrument Subtype: Laser Ranging
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A LASER TRACKING REFLECTOR is an object that reflects incident energy; usually a device designed for specific reflection characteristics such as tracking (observing patterns) with laser technology.
[With regard to the LAGEOS Missions, Text From National Space Science Data Center, http://nssdc.gsfc.nasa.gov/nmc/experimentDisplay.do?id=1976-039A-01 ]
Laser retroreflectors covering a very dense spherical satellite were used to provide a permanent reference point in a very stable orbit for precision earth-dynamics measurements. This sphere was machined largely from depleted uranium, weighed about 411 kg, and was composed of a cubical inner core with six attached spherical caps. Each of the spherical caps had machined cavities to accommodate the retroreflectors. The satellite was placed at a high orbital inclination at an altitude of about 5000 km and tracked by a network of 13 laser stations operated by both U.S. and foreign agencies. The performance in orbit is limited only by degradation of the retroreflectors, and a minimum lifetime of 50 years is expected.