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  Apollo 11 at 40: Laser Ranging Retro-Reflector experiment funding cut

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Author Topic:   Apollo 11 at 40: Laser Ranging Retro-Reflector experiment funding cut
Robert Pearlman
Editor

Posts: 27328
From: Houston, TX
Registered: Nov 1999

posted 06-21-2009 11:35 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for Robert Pearlman   Click Here to Email Robert Pearlman     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
The Guardian: After 40 years' reflection, laser moon mirror project is axed
An experiment, begun when Apollo 11 astronauts Neil Armstrong and Buzz Aldrin left a mirror on the lunar surface 40 years ago to allow Earth-based astronomers to fire lasers at it, has been ended by American science chiefs.

The National Science Foundation (NSF) last week wrote to scientists working at the McDonald Laser ranging station at Fort Davis in Texas to tell them the annual $125,000 funding for their research project was going be terminated following a review of its scientific merits.

The decision means that four decades of continuous lunar laser research at the McDonald Observatory, run by the University of Texas at Austin, will be halted by the end of this year. Among the project's unlikely achievements has been the discovery that the moon is moving away from Earth at a rate of two-and-a-half inches a year.

The mirror's existence, and the fact that astronomers can bounce lasers off it and detect the returning beam, has also provided NASA and other scientists with compelling evidence to refute the claims of moon-landing deniers who claim the Apollo lunar mission were hoaxes filmed in an Earth-based studio.

Jay Chladek
Member

Posts: 2211
From: Bellevue, NE, USA
Registered: Aug 2007

posted 06-22-2009 05:45 AM     Click Here to See the Profile for Jay Chladek   Click Here to Email Jay Chladek     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
The reflector itself can still be utilized by private interests though right?

Klaatu
Member

Posts: 60
From: England
Registered: Sep 2007

posted 06-22-2009 11:13 AM     Click Here to See the Profile for Klaatu     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
This is a shame, but at least this experiment can be returned to at anytime in the future. Not having any need for power or batteries etc. Fancy choosing the 40th anniversary to stop funding though.

mjanovec
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Posts: 3593
From: Midwest, USA
Registered: Jul 2005

posted 06-22-2009 11:38 AM     Click Here to See the Profile for mjanovec   Click Here to Email mjanovec     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
I would imagine that after 40 years of gathering data, the rate the moon has been moving away from the earth has been well established. In some respects, I can understand why the funding would be cut, as one is probably only confirming year after year what is already known. That money could probably be put to better scientific uses elsewhere.

The reflectors will remain there and the possibility for future science will still be there, should someone decide to resume the research.

Apollo Redux
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Posts: 346
From: Montreal, Quebec, Canada
Registered: Sep 2006

posted 06-22-2009 12:50 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for Apollo Redux   Click Here to Email Apollo Redux     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
I remember reading an article, a number of years ago, that claimed the reflector confirmed that the moon was moving away from the Earth at a rate of 1 inch per year.

Aztecdoug
Member

Posts: 1330
From: Huntington Beach
Registered: Feb 2000

posted 06-22-2009 03:32 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for Aztecdoug   Click Here to Email Aztecdoug     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
Is the Moon moving away from the Earth, or is the Earth moving away from the Moon? Or are they mutually backing away from each other? Until that is determined I think there is still some research required...

Moonwalker1954
Member

Posts: 236
From: Montreal, Canada
Registered: Jul 2004

posted 06-22-2009 06:51 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for Moonwalker1954   Click Here to Email Moonwalker1954     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
By the way, did anybody see the first episode of the TV series "Impact" last night? Let me tell ya, the Moon is actually getting very close to Earth...

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