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Lunar Laser Ranging (LLR)

Present Status

The IfE, together with the Forschungseinrichtung Satellitengeodäsie (FESG), acts as one of five Lunar Analysis Centres of the International Laser Ranging Service (ILRS) worldwide, with strong concentration on relativistic effects in the Earth-Moon system. The IfE also cooperates with the ILRS Analysis Working Group to realize common standards and consistent results of the ILRS.

A portion of the Apollo 15 lunar laser ranging retroreflector array, as placed on the Moon and photographed by D. Scott. Source: NASA/D. Scott.
A portion of the Apollo 15 lunar laser ranging retroreflector array, as placed on the Moon and photographed by D. Scott. Source: NASA/D. Scott.

The existing models and the LLR software packages were further developed from 2006 to 2014 by Dipl.-Ing Liliane Biskupek (DFG FOR584, QUEST) and since 2009 by Dipl.-Ing Franz Hofmann (QUEST, DFG FOR1503). The goal is a further improvement of the LLR analysis to obtain, e.g., highly accurate tests of parameters related to General Relativity. In the framework of the DFG research unit FOR1503 "Space-Time Reference Systems for Monitoring Global Change and for Precise Navigation in Space" the LLR analysis is further enhanced (project PN3) and is also supported by Dr.-Ing. Enrico Mai, who develops a new solar system ephemeris in project PN1 since 2012.


Below, you can find some of the main changes and investigations within the IfE LLR analysis in the last years. For further informations we refer to the project sites.

  • Implementing the Earth-fixed to Space-fixed transformation according to the IERS conventions 2010
  • Preparation of the software to produce SINEX-files used in the ITRF combination
  • Update of the gravity field models from Earth and Moon to the latest versions and usage of the lunar field up to degree and order 6 in the ephemeris computation
  • Modeling of the lunar core in the ephemeris computation
  • Refined tidal modelling and the effect on the lunar ephemeris
  • Update of the model for atmospheric time delay of the laser pulses
  • Studies of different implementations of the Earth-fixed to Space-fixed transformation
  • Estimation of nutation and Earth rotation parameters
  • Development of a LLR-data simulation tool to study the effects of new observatories and lunar reflectors
  • Intensive tests of relativistic parameters

Research Projects | Lunar Laser Ranging

Current projects with international relevance are carried out in the field of Lunar Laser Ranging. The knowledge about our natural satellite, the Moon, also helps us to obtain a deeper understanding of the Earth's system. Please follow the Link below for further information.