A. Paolozzi, I. Ciufolini, A. Gabrielli, C. Paris ; G. Sindoni ;
Jan - 2013

Event Title : XXII AIDAA Conference, Neaples (Italy), September 9th - 12th, 2013.
Published in: Proceedings of XXII AIDAA Conference
Publisher: AIDAA
type: Conference Proceedings

LARES is a satellite of the Italian Space Agency and was successfully launched with the new VEGA launcher in the occasion of its inaugural flight, VV01. LARES was injected in a circular orbit at 1450 km altitude. This altitude was required to reduce atmospheric drag, whereas the satellite was designed to minimize the non-gravitational perturbations acting on the surface of the satellite. This was of paramount importance because the mission objective is to test Einstein general relativity, and any unmodeled effect could spoil the accuracy of the relativistic measurement. With the optimal design achieved, this non-gravitational unmodeled effects are maintained below 1\% of the Lense-Thirring Effect. This effect is the orbital node shift induced by the Earth rotation as predicted by general relativity. To achieve the accuracy required for the test, it was conceived a constellation of three laser ranged satellites (LAGEOS 1, LAGEOS 2 and LARES) along with the latest definition of the Earth gravitational field by GRACE satellite. The satellite is a passive system and embedded with 92 Cube Corner Reflectors (CCRs) that have the property of reflecting back to the emitting ground station the laser pulses, thus allowing its precise orbital determination. In this paper the engineering aspects of the mission will be addressed.

keywords : General Relativity,LARES,Space Geodesy,VEGA maiden flight