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McDonald Laser Ranging Station

University of Texas McDonald Observatory

Near Ft. Davis, Texas

Introduction

The McDonald Laser Ranging Station (MLRS) is a dedicated laser ranging station capable of measuring round trip light travel times to a constellation of artificial earth satellites and lunar retro-reflectors to a precision of about 1 centimeter and time of laser firing to about 35 picoseconds. Data from this station as well as 30-40 similar satellite-capable systems and one other regularly contributing lunar-capable system around the world are used for a variety of scientific pursuits including study of the earth's gravitational field, plate tectonics, earth's orientation in space, high precision time transfer, relativity, lunar and solar system dynamics, and providing high precision orbits for GPS and ocean top mapping missions.

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