A new lunar generation laser

The new instrument Moonlight will be set up on the first four missions Moon Express to test the principles of the theory of general relativity enunciated by Albert Einstein, increasing our scientific knowledge of the moon, and also increasing the accuracy of the mapping of our satellite that will be used in future missions.
Moonlight is called the next generation of lunar laser which will be equipped with the equipment for future missions on the moon and is the subject of the agreement that has been caught between the National Laboratories of Frascati (LNF) of the National Institute of Nuclear Physics (INFN), the company Moon Express and the University of Maryland.


Credit: Dr. Bob Richards CEO at Moon Express

The agreement was announced on May 15 on the sidelines of the third European Lunar Symposium, which was held in Frascati Laboratories during the workshop of International Space Exploration Coordination Group (ISECG), attended by representatives of space agencies and scientists of the Moon from around the world. The new instruments will be set up Moonlight on the first four missions Moon Express and used in conjunction with devices retroreflectors Cube Corner Retroreflector (JRC) of the Apollo 11, 14 and 15, to test the principles of the theory of general relativity Albert Einstein, increase our scientific knowledge of the moon, and increase the accuracy of the mapping of our satellite that will be used in future missions.
“Future tests will come to the heart of the fundamental principles of general relativity,” said Simone Dell’Agnello National Laboratories of Frascati, who co-developed devices Moonlight and partners in the agreement for equipment Moon Express. “Any violation found would require a revision of the theoretical understanding of how the universe works,” he concluded.
“Our next generation of lunar laser is a promising solution to test general relativity and other theories of gravity”, reiterated Doug Currie of the University of Maryland, scientist in charge of devices Apollo, who provided the first (and one of the best ) confirmation of the effectiveness of the use of mirrors lunar studies on general relativity.


Credit: Dr. Bob Richards CEO at Moon Express

Moonlight was born thanks to the collaboration with the Matera Laser Ranging Observatory Italian Space Agency and the University of Padua. The joint effort has resulted in the design, analysis, simulation and thermal optics, manufacturing and testing thermo-vacuum optical device, which will be transported to the moon aboard the lander Moon Express MX-1, with a mission scheduled for 2017.
“The devices are Moonlight apparatuses wonderful,” said Bob Richards, co-founder and CEO of Moon Express. “It is a great satisfaction that Moon Express can help solve key scientific issues of cosmology, and at the same time promote the knowledge of the Moon, in order to help our future missions with this series of devices highly accurate and relatively cheap.”
Moon Express is contributing $ 12 million to the total cost of 24 million agreements that includes four missions, reinforcing the value of a strong approach to cost-sharing between the public and private sectors for the lunar exploration. “We are making this investment to support our clients and contribute to fundamental studies on the moon and our universe,” said Naveen Jain, co-founder and president of Moon Express. “The creation of a network of new generation laser retro-reflectors on the Moon is also a good business investment in lunar infrastructure for our future missions.”

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