Probing gravity with the international lunar network and the proposed ASI lunar mission MAGIA

Auditorium B. Touschek (Laboratori Nazionali di Frascati, Via Enrico Fermi 40, Frascati)

Auditorium B. Touschek

Laboratori Nazionali di Frascati, Via Enrico Fermi 40, Frascati

Via Enrico Fermi 40 00044 Frascati

Lunar and Satellite Laser Ranging (LLR/SLR) are consolidated techniques which provide a precise AND, at the same time, cost-effective method to determine the orbits of the Moon and of satellites equipped with laser retro-reflectors with respect to the International Celestial Reference Frame (ITRF/ICRF).
We will describe the improved precision tests of General Relativity and of new theories of gravity that can be performed with 2nd generation LLR (MoonLIGHT project), with SLR/LLR in the Earth-Moon system (MAGIA) and with SLR in deep space (ASI COFIS study). A new wave of lunar exploration, scientific and technological research started in 2007-2008 with the launch of three missions (Chang'e by China, Selene by Japan, Chandrayaan by India), missions in preparation (LCROSS, LRO, GRAIL/LADEE by NASA) and other proposed missions (like MAGIA in Italy). This research program will be greatly enhanced by the robotic deployment of the International Lunar Network (ILN) on the surface.The ILN will be populated in the near future (2012-14) by NASA "anchor" nodes. The MoonLIGHT retro-reflector developed by a US-Italy team (University of Maryland-LNF) and under space qualification at LNF is a natural candidate instrument for the ILN 'core payload', for the NASA anchor nodes and as a permanent lunar milestone.

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