Laser tracking system developed by Smithsonian Observatory


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A prototype laser tracking system, developed by the Smithsonian Astrophysical Observatory for the simultaneous optical and laser observation of satellites, has been installed at Mt. Hopkins, 40 miles south of Tucson, Arizona. The ruby laser, manufactured by Spacerays, Inc., of Burlington, Massachusetts, is coupled with a special Baker-Nunn tracking camera. The combination of the camera's highly precise positional data with the laser's ranging data, or satellite-to ground measurements, will provide one of the most accurate methods of satellite tracking now available. The Mt. Hopkins laser is a prototype model and addition al lasers may be installed later at other stations in the Smithsonian's world-wide optical tracking network. The Smithsonian's tracking program is supported by the National Aeronautics and Space Administration. (Smithsonian Photo by Tom Butler)