NASA Provides ESA Laser Retroreflector for Lunar Pathfinder Mission

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NASA announced Saturday that it has officially handed over a laser retroreflector array to the European Space Agency for its Lunar Pathfinder satellite mission.

Developed by NASA’s Goddard Space Flight Center, the instrument is the is the initial flight component to be installed on the world’s first spacecraft dedicated to lunar communication services.

Scheduled for launch in 2024, Lunar Pathfinder is a collaboration between NASA and ESA. For ESA’s part, the mission will advance its Moonlight vision and test if existing Global Navigation Satellite Systems can effectively be positioned on the moon. The agency also intends to deploy a weather monitor for studying radiation levels around the moon.

The laser retroreflectors are expected to provide precise measurements of the Pathfinder’s position, and to check the performance of GNSS. The data will be used by NASA to navigate its Artemis missions, and to further research in lunar science and the structure of celestial bodies.

Surrey Satellite Technology built Lunar Pathfinder and is leading the expedition with the two space agencies.

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