4 may 1976 NASA sent into orbit a very unusual satellite called LAGEOS (LAser GEOdynamics Satellite photo). He wasn’t on the plane no electronics, motors, and power supplies. In fact, it is just a brass ball with a diameter of 60 cm and a mass of 407 kg with aluminum coating. Evenly spaced on a sphere 426 corner reflectors, of which 422 completed fused quartz, and 4 made of germanium (for infrared radiation). The satellite went into orbit 5860 km, where it will rotate the next 8.4 million years, keeping the record with a message to descendants from a group of scientists led by Carl Sagan.
October 22, 1992, was launched a similar satellite, LAGEOS-2, built by the Italian space Agency (altitude of 5620 km). As you can guess by the design and the materials used, these passive satellites have a single role — the reflection of the laser beam. Laser ranging is performed with dozens of observation points of the International service laser ranging (International Laser Ranging Service), which has more than 40 stations around the world.
Now the international scientific community plans to build a third satellite LAGEOS-3 which will allow you to perform laser ranging is much more precise than their predecessors.
Unfortunately, Russia is not involved in this international project. But it is going to launch its own two of the satellite-reflector of glass “Blits-M”, a thousand times more accurate than foreign, the newspaper “Izvestia”.
LAGEOS-3 — a joint international program, which will be the result of a collaboration of scientists from France, Germany, UK, Italy, Spain and the United States. According to the plans of developers, LAGEOS-3 for the first time in history will allow you to measure quasi-stationary property of the Earth — the gravitational magnetic dipole moment, predicted by the General theory of relativity.
In 2009, Russia also launched the first satellite reflector called BLITS (Ball of the Lens In The Space is a spherical lens in the space). Glass sphere placed in orbit height of 800 km. in 2013, However, the satellite crashed, faced with a fragment of another spacecraft. Presumably, this was a fragment of Chinese meteorological satellite, Fengyun-1C, which in 2007, Beijing tested its anti-satellite weapons. The wreckage of two communications satellites of Russia and the USA, which clashed in 2009. Writes NASA, now a third of all space debris in orbit formed by the two incidents in 2007 and 2009, and at an altitude of 800 km debris especially a lot.
Upgraded devices “Blits-M” will be a continuation of the “Blitz”. They have a large diameter (220 mm) and weight (16,56 kg) than the first satellite (170 mm and 7.53 kg). In addition, they will lead to a higher orbit is 1500 km.
“These specialized satellites with laser reflectors that produce in our country is the best in the world — said in comments “news” the scientific Director of the Institute of applied astronomy Alexander Ipatov. — No wonder our reflectors and put on foreign vehicles. The main function of “Blits-M” — to create the most accurate Earth coordinate system. The difficulty is that the core of our planet is liquid and changes its position. Tie to the Geocenter of the Earth coordinate system is the most complex. Current measurements using lasers and technology radiointerferometry differ by 6 see Why — no one knows.”
Glass bowls will help to clarify the model of the Earth’s gravitational field and its effect on the orbits of spacecraft. Consequently, they will increase the accuracy of satellite positioning systems such as GPS and GLONASS. In addition, these data will clarify the patterns of movement of tectonic plates means that you will be more reliable to predict the earthquake.
Russian satellites will provide reflection of the laser signal with an error of not more than 0.1 mm. It is a thousand times higher accuracy than that of LAGEOS, noted in the Scientific-industrial Corporation “Systems of precision instrument making”. It was there that he developed the technology for ultra-precise production of multi-layer spherical lenses and released three spherical space satellite (two will be sent into orbit, one will remain on Earth as a control sample).
Thus, the Russian satellites reflectors will help to clarify the International system of earth coordinates (International Terrestrial Reference System, ITRS), the origin of which is the center of mass of the Earth. Clarification of the ITRS will help to clarify and Russian earth system of coordinates PZ-90 (Parameters of Earth 1990) system of geodetic parameters including fundamental geodetic constants, parameters between the common terrestrial ellipsoid, the gravity field of the Earth, geocentric coordinate system and parameters of its relationship with other systems of coordinates (see scientific brochure “Parameters of Earth 1990”, published by the Military topographic Directorate of the General staff of the Armed forces of the Russian Federation).
Geodetic constants and parameters between the common terrestrial ellipsoid PZ 90.02
Two of the Russian satellite “Blits-M” is scheduled to launch, together with SPACECRAFT systems “the Messenger” in October 2018.
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