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Laser Cube System

NSSDCA ID: 1975-010A-01

Mission Name: Starlette
Principal Investigator:Mr. Chris C. Stephanides


Laser corner reflectors, composed of 60 33-mm cubes, and ground based laser systems, were used to obtain precise satellite tracking information. The cubes were configured on the middle of the lines joining the apexes to the center of the 20 spherical caps on the satellite. Each of the caps supported three corner cubes. When illuminated by a laser light pulse from the ground, each retroreflector cube in the array reflected the light ray back to a special telescope receiver on the ground. The reflected light was picked up by the telescope and the optical impulses converted to an electric signal. A digital counter recorded the time when the light beam was returned to the ground. The total travel time of the light pulses, from ground to satellite and back to the ground, measured the distance to the satellite, thus forming the basis of the satellite optical laser system. The following observational systems were used to acquire the necessary data: NASA/WFC Laser Ranging Systems, SAO (Smithsonian Astrophysical Observatory) Laser Ranging Systems, NASA/GSFC Laser Ranging Systems, and other national and international laser stations.

Alternate Names

  • Starlette/LaserCubeSystem


  • Earth Science: Geophysics/Geodesy

Additional Information

Questions and comments about this experiment can be directed to: Coordinated Request and User Support Office



NameRoleOriginal AffiliationE-mail
Mr. Chris C. StephanidesPrincipal InvestigatorNASA Goddard Space Flight Center
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