Prospects in the orbital and rotational dynamics of the Moon with the advent of sub-centimeter lunar laser ranging
Kopeikin, Sergei M.
Brumberg, V. A.
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Lunar Laser Ranging (LLR) measurements are crucial for advanced exploration of the laws of fundamental gravitational physics and geophysics. Current LLR technology allows us to measure distances to the Moon with a precision approaching 1 millimeter. As NASA pursues the vision of taking humans back to the Moon, new, more precise laser ranging applications will be demanded, including continuous tracking from more sites on Earth, placing new CCR arrays on the Moon, and possibly installing other devices such as transponders, etc. Successful achievement of this goal strongly demands further significant improvement of the theoretical model of the orbital and rotational dynamics of the Earth-Moon system. This model should inevitably be based on the theory of general relativity, fully incorporate the relevant geophysical processes, lunar librations, tides, and should rely upon the most recent standards and recommendations of the IAU for data analysis. This paper discusses methods and problems in developing such a mathematical model. The model will take into account all the classical and relativistic effects in the orbital and rotational motion of the Moon and Earth at the sub-centimeter level. The new model will allow us to navigate a spacecraft precisely to a location on the Moon. It will also greatly improve our understanding of the structure of the lunar interior and the nature of the physical interaction at the core-mantle interface layer. The new theory and upcoming millimeter LLR will give us the means to perform one of the most precise fundamental tests of general relativity in the solar system.
Physics and Astronomy publications (MU)