LAGEOS-II laser ranging begins


  • M. Catherine White


On October 24, the first laser beam fired at LAGEOS-II, a satellite covered with 426 mirror-like prism reflectors, was received at Orroral Station, Australia. Six days later, 103 passes had been received at fifteen stations around the world. The $4-million Italian-built satellite consists of an aluminum sphere, a brass core, and the outer reflectors and has no moving parts. It was launched October 22 aboard Space Shuttle Columbia. Thirty countries are tracking LAGEOS-II from sixty-five sites worldwide. NASA has ten fixed ground stations and the National Satellite Laser Ranging Committee coordinates thirty-five ground station laser facilities around the world for tracking LAGEOS-II and its sister, LAGEOS-I, as well as several satellites launched by other countries.