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 JAMP  Vol.3 No.2 , February 2015
Advanced Laser Retroreflectors for Astrophysics and Space Science
Abstract: We developed advances laser retroreflectors for solar system exploration, geodesy and for precision test of General Relativity (GR) and new gravitational physics: a micro-reflector array (INRRI, Instrument for landing-Roving laser Retroreflectors Investigations), a midsize reflector array for the European Earth Observation (EO) program, Copernicus (CORA, COpernicus laser Retroreflector Array), a large, single-retroreflector (MoonLIGHT, Moon Laser Instrumentation for General relativity High accuracy Tests). These laser retroreflectors will be fully characterized at the SCF_Lab (Satellite/lunar/GNSS laser ranging/altimetry Cube/microsat Characterization Facilities Laboratory), a unique and dedicated infrastructure of INFN-LNF (www.lnf.infn.it/esperimenti/etrusco/). Our research program foresees several activities: 1) Developing and characterizing the mentioned laser retroreflector devices to determine landing accuracy, rover positioning during exploration and planetary/Moon’s surface georeferencing. These devices will be passive, laser wavelength- independent, long-lived reference point. INRRI will enable the performance of full-column measurement of trace species in the Mars atmosphere by future space-borne lidars. These measurements will be complementary to highly localized measurements made by gas sampling techniques on the Rover or by laser back-scattering lidar techniques on future orbiters and/or from the surface. INRRI will also support laser and quantum communications, carried out among future Mars Orbiters and Mars Rovers. This will be possible also because the INRRI laser retroreflectors will be metal back-coated and, therefore, will not change the photon polarization. The added value of INRRI is its low mass, compact size, zero maintenance and its usefulness for any future laser altimetry, ranging, communications, atmospheric lidar capable Mars orbiter, for virtually decades after the end of the Mars surface mission, like the Apollo and Lunokhod lunar laser retroreflectors. MoonLIGHT and INRRI are proposed for landings on the Moon (two Google Lunar X Prize Missions, namely Moon Express; Russia’s Luna-27 mission, as well as others under consideration/negotia- tion, also with the help of ASI, ESA and other partnerships); 2) Precision tests of GR with LLR to MoonLIGHT reflectors. Development of new fundamental gravity physics models and study of experimental constraints to these models use also laser ranging and laser reflectors throughout the solar system: extension of general relativity to include Spacetime Torsion, Non-Minimal Coupling between matter and curvature (so-called “ ” theories, or NMC gravity); 3) Extension of program to: Mars, Phobos and Deimos, Jupiter and Saturn icy/rocky moons, Near Earth Asteroids.
Cite this paper: Agnello, S. , Monache, G. , Vittori, R. , Boni, A. , Cantone, C. , Ciocci, E. , Martini, M. , Patrizi, G. , Tibuzzi, M. , Bianco, G. , Currie, D. , Intaglietta, N. , Salvatori, L. , Lops, C. , Contessa, S. , Porcelli, L. , Mondaini, C. , Tuscano, P. , Maiello, M. , (2015) Advanced Laser Retroreflectors for Astrophysics and Space Science. Journal of Applied Mathematics and Physics, 3, 218-227. doi: 10.4236/jamp.2015.32032.
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