LARES: A New Satellite Specifically Designed for Testing General Relativity
Antonio Paolozzi ; Ignazio Ciufolini ; Claudio Paris ; et al. ; - ASI Sponsor
Jan - 2015
DOI: 10.1155/2015/341384

journal : International Journal of Aerospace Engineering

Volume : 2015 ; type: Article Journal

It is estimated that today several hundred operational satellites are orbiting Earth while many more either have already reentered the atmosphere or are no longer operational. On the 13th of February 2012 one more satellite of the Italian Space Agency has been successfully launched. The main difference with respect to all other satellites is its extremely high density that makes LARES not only the densest satellite but also the densest known orbiting object in the solar system. That implies that the nongravitational perturbations on its surface will have the smallest effects on its orbit. Those design characteristics are required to perform an accurate test of frame dragging and specifically a test of Lense-Thirring effect, predicted by General Relativity. LARES satellite, although passive, with 92 laser retroreflectors on its surface, was a real engineering challenge in terms of both manufacturing and testing. Data acquisition and processing are in progress. The paper will describe the scientific objectives, the status of the experiment, the special feature of the satellite and separation system including some manufacturing issues, and the special tests performed on its retroreflectors.

keywords :

Notes : The authors gratefully acknowledge the support of the Italian Space Agency, Grants I/043/08/0 and I/043/08/1