An operational theory of laser-radar selenodesy


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A theory of the utilization of laser techniques for ranging from the Earth to the Moon for the purpose of providing control points on the lunar surface at which the figure of the Moon is measured to an accuracy at least an order of magnitude better than that of the present astrometric measurements is presented. This, in turn, increases the accuracy of the horizontal selenocentric coordinates of topographical features measured by present astrometric methods. The improvement in the vertical and horizontal coordinates of control points in the Apollo landing zone will aid in the analysis of Unmanned Lunar Orbiter photographs for the selection of Apollo landing sites. The present discussion proposes the means of obtaining the ground control upon which the Orbiter photogrammetry is to be fastened. In addition, a technique of combining Goldstone tracking data to show where the resulting lunar figure is positioned relative to the Moon's center of mass is presented. If corner reflectors are placed on the lunar surface, as suggested by many members of the scientific community, or on a lunar orbiting vehicle, one or more Earth-based laser ranging systems are essential. These reflectors will give enough enhancement in return signal to allow for an additional increase in range accuracy of one to two orders of magnitude. In addition to the primary data on the figure of the Moon, a number of other measurements of scientific importance are then readily obtainable. As far as the measurement of control points is concerned, however, the use of corner reflectors is not essential for the success of this project. Questions regarding the influence on the present shape of the Moon of the frozen tide, isostasy, and past impacts of large asteroids appear in large part answerable through the data which are indicated to be obtainable under the present theory. ?? 1967.

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An operational theory of laser-radar selenodesy
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