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LARES (acronym for Laser Relativity Satellite) (COSPAR ID 2012-006A) is an Italian Space Agency[4] scientific satellite launched from the ESA Guiana Space Centre of Kourou, French Guiana, by the first flight of the European launch vehicle Vega on 13 February 2012.[5][6][7][8]

LARESball public.JPG
The aspect of LARES satellite
Mission typeLaser ranging satellite
Test of GR[1][2]
COSPAR ID2012-006A
SATCAT no.38077
Spacecraft properties
Launch mass386.8 kilograms (853 lb)
Dimensions364 millimetres (14.3 in)
Start of mission
Launch date13 February 2012, 22:45:00 (2012-02-13UTC22:45Z) UTC
RocketVega VV01
Launch siteKourou ELA-1
Orbital parameters
Reference systemGeocentric
RegimeLow Earth
Perigee altitude1,437 kilometres (893 mi)[3]
Apogee altitude1,451 kilometres (902 mi)[3]
Inclination69.49 degrees[3]
Period114.75 minutes[3]
Epoch29 July 2013[3]

An improved version called LARES 2 is scheduled for launch in late 2019, on the first flight of Vega-C.[9]

The LARES satellite is the densest known object orbiting in the Solar System.[1]



The satellite, completely passive, is made of tungsten alloy and houses 92 cube corner retroreflectors that are used to track the satellite via laser from stations on Earth (satellite laser ranging). LARES's body has a diameter of about 36.4 centimetres (14 in) and weighs about 400 kilograms (882 lb).[10] LARES was inserted in an orbit with 1,450 kilometres (901 mi) of perigee, an inclination of 69.5 degrees and reduced eccentricity. The satellite is tracked by the International Laser Ranging Service stations.[11][12]

Scientific goalsEdit

The main scientific target of the LARES mission is the measurement of the Lense–Thirring effect, also known as frame-dragging, with an accuracy of about 1%, according to its proponent, Ignazio Ciufolini (Principal Investigator of the mission), and the LARES Scientific Team.[13] The reliability of such an estimate is currently debated.[14] An analysis of 3.5 years of laser-ranging data has been reported with a claimed accuracy of about 4%.[15] Critical remarks appeared later in the literature.[16]

The LARES satellite may also be used for measurements in the fields of geodynamics and satellite geodesy.

See alsoEdit


  1. ^ a b "The LAser RElativity Satellite". The LARES Team. Archived from the original on 2012-12-31. Retrieved 2013-02-28.
  2. ^ "LARES". International Laser Ranging Service. Retrieved 2013-02-28.
  3. ^ a b c d e f Peat, Chris (29 July 2013). "LARES - Orbit". Heavens-Above. Retrieved July 29, 2013.
  4. ^ "LARES: Satellite per misure relativistiche" (in Italian). Agenzia Spaziale Italiana. Archived from the original on October 15, 2009. Retrieved 2009-03-12.
  5. ^ "Vega Launch Vehicle". European Space Agency.
  6. ^ "Vega overview". Archived from the original on 2009-03-30.
  7. ^ "Prepping satellite to test Albert Einstein".
  8. ^ "Overview of ESA activities in 2012 of interest to media".
  9. ^ Krebs, Gunter. "LARES 2". Gunter's Space Page. Retrieved 26 October 2018.
  10. ^ Peroni, I.; et al. (2007). "The Design of LARES: A satellite for testing General Relativity". Proceedings of the 58th International Astronautical Congress. IAC-07-B4.2.07.
  11. ^ "International Laser Ranging Service".
  12. ^ "LARES page on the ILRS Site".
  13. ^ Ciufolini, I.; Paolozzi A.; Pavlis E. C.; Ries J. C.; Koenig R.; Matzner R. A.; Sindoni G. & Neumayer H. (2009). "Towards a One Percent Measurement of Frame Dragging by Spin with Satellite Laser Ranging to LAGEOS, LAGEOS 2 and LARES and GRACE Gravity Models". Space Science Reviews. 148 (1–4): 71–104. Bibcode:2009SSRv..148...71C. doi:10.1007/s11214-009-9585-7.
  14. ^ Iorio, L. (2009). "Towards a 1% measurement of the Lense-Thirring effect with LARES?". Advances in Space Research. 43 (7): 1148–1157. arXiv:0802.2031. Bibcode:2009AdSpR..43.1148I. doi:10.1016/j.asr.2008.10.016.
  15. ^ Ciufolini, I.; A. Paolozzi; E. C. Pavlis; R. Koenig; J. Ries; V. Gurzadyan; R. Matzner; R. Penrose; G. Sindoni; C. Paris; H. Khachatryan; S. Mirzoyan (March 2016). "A test of general relativity using the LARES and LAGEOS satellites and a GRACE Earth gravity model. Measurement of Earth's dragging of inertial frames". The European Physical Journal C. 76 (3): 120. arXiv:1603.09674. Bibcode:2016EPJC...76..120C. doi:10.1140/epjc/s10052-016-3961-8. PMC 4946852. PMID 27471430.
  16. ^ Iorio, L. (February 2017). "A comment on " A test of general relativity using the LARES and LAGEOS satellites and a GRACE Earth gravity model. Measurement of Earth's dragging of inertial frames," by I. Ciufolini et al". The European Physical Journal C. 77 (2): 73. arXiv:1701.06474. Bibcode:2017EPJC...77...73I. doi:10.1140/epjc/s10052-017-4607-1.

External linksEdit