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  • The Design of LARES: a Satellite for Testing General Relativity

    Paper number

    IAC-07-B4.2.07

    Author

    Prof. Isidoro Peroni, Scuola di Ingegneria Aerospaziale, Italy

    Coauthor

    Prof. Antonio Paolozzi, University of Rome "La Sapienza", Italy

    Coauthor

    Dr. Giampiero Sindoni, Scuola di Ingegneria Aerospaziale, Italy

    Coauthor

    Prof. Filippo Graziani, Scuola di Ingegneria Aerospaziale, Italy

    Coauthor

    Dr. Claudio Paris, Italy

    Coauthor

    Mr. Paolo Ialongo, Italy

    Coauthor

    Mr. Cristian Vendittozzi, Italy

    Coauthor

    Ms. Chiara Cerruti, Scuola di Ingegneria Aerospaziale, Italy

    Coauthor

    Mr. Alessandro Lucantoni, Scuola di Ingegneria Aerospaziale, Italy

    Coauthor

    Prof. Ignazio Ciufolini, Italy

    Coauthor

    Dr. Simone Dell'Agnello, Italy

    Coauthor

    Dr. Alessandro Boni, Italy

    Coauthor

    Dr. Claudio Cantone, Italy

    Coauthor

    Dr. Giovanni Delle Monache, Italy

    Coauthor

    Dr. Alberto Franceschi, Italy

    Coauthor

    Dr. Tommaso Napolitano, Italy

    Coauthor

    Mr. Nicola Intaglietta, Italy

    Coauthor

    Mr. Manuele Martini, Italy

    Coauthor

    Dr. Marco Garattini, Italy

    Coauthor

    Prof. Giovanni Bellettini, Italy

    Coauthor

    Dr. Roberto Tauraso, Italy

    Coauthor

    Dr. Lara Caputo, Italy

    Coauthor

    Dr. Francesco Passeggio, Italy

    Coauthor

    Dr. Francesco Longobardo, Italy

    Coauthor

    Prof. Erricos Pavlis, United States

    Coauthor

    Prof. Richard Matzner, University of Texas at Austin, United States

    Coauthor

    Dr. David P. Rubincam, National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA)/Goddard space Flight Center, United States

    Coauthor

    Prof. Douglas Currie, United States

    Coauthor

    Dr. Victor J. Slabinski, United States

    Coauthor

    Dr. David. A. Arnold, United States

    Year

    2007

    Abstract

    LARES ( LAser RElativity experimentS ) satellite is a passive, laser-tracked test particle. The main scientific objectives of the LARES mission are:

    • a series of high precision tests of Einstein’s theory of general relativity, in particular a measurement (1% accuracy ) of the Lense-Thirring (frame dragging) effect due to the Earth’s angular momentum and a high precision test of the Earth gravitomagnetic field;
    • measurement of some PPN parameters;
    • tests on the 1/ r 2 law in very weak field;
    • conceivable tests of brane-world theories (for very high altitude orbit);
    • improved geodesy and geodynamics measurements and determinations.

    For such accurate tests and measurements, all gravitational and non gravitational perturbations must be determined with very small errors. In particular thermal test of the Cube Corner Retroreflectors (CCRs) mounted with the relevant mounting system will be performed in a Space Climatic Facility (SCF) built at INFN-LNF (Frascati, Italy) to evaluate the thermal thrust due to uneven thermal distribution over the satellite surface.

    LARES is a satellite similar to the two LAGEOS. A smaller radius and a higher density material will be used to i) decrease the surface/mass ratio for reducing the error on surface perturbations and ii) to reduce its total mass to save in launch cost. The baseline design for LARES is a bulk sphere of 300 millimetres in diameter, with 102 CCRs on its surface, held in place by plastic rings in cavities similar to the LAGEOS ones. However alternative designs for the main structure, for the CCR cavities and mounting systems are under consideration. Choice of metal alloy will be made mainly with the following requirements: high density, workability, lowest eddy current production during the motion through the magnetic field and cost.

    After the launch of LARES, tracking will be performed by measuring the time of flight of laser pulses sent from the ground towards the satellite. The technique allow to measure distances with a sub-centimetre precision, over distances of thousands of kilometres. Few orbits are compatible with the scientific objectives of LARES. The lowest acceptable altitude is for a nearly polar orbit at 1100 km. In this case, the estimated life time is about twenty thousands years.

    In this paper LARES satellite design will be presented along with some preliminary results from the thermo-vacuum test. Also expected results from the LARES experiments will be briefly anticipated.

    Abstract document

    IAC-07-B4.2.07.pdf

    Manuscript document

    IAC-07-B4.2.07.pdf (🔒 authorized access only).

    To get the manuscript, please contact IAF Secretariat.