Joint NASA-Australian Laser Ranging



The National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA) and the Australian National Development and Energy Department (National Mapping Division), which built and operated the lunar laser-ranging facility at Orroral, are planning a new system that will be capable of measuring distances between the moon and the earth to better than 5 cm. The system will have an accuracy in the tracking of artificial satellites of better than 2 cm (Ind. Res. Dev., August 1982).

The new facility is to be named the Nat-map Laser-Ranging System (NLRS). New lasers and computer facilities will be used to provide much higher accuracy and a higher data production rate. According to a recent report (op. cit.), the new system will be used for a wide range of geophysical applications, which include obtaining data and monitoring variations in the rotation rate of the earth. Continental drift measurements will be made with considerably more accuracy than before by means of the vastly enlarged computer data base system.