Lunar Laser Ranging Equipment Measures The Earth-Moon Distance With Millimeter Precision

Market

Educational Research

Application

Calibration Equipment for Lunar Laser Ranging

Credit Line: National Maritime Museum
The distance is measured by the round-trip travel time of the light pulse bouncing off lunar reflectors multiplied by the speed of light.

A  University research team contacted EIC Solutions to develop a solution to protect their calibration equipment from failure in harsh environments. Located outdoors at a remote astronomical observatory in southern New Mexico, the equipment calibrates their lunar laser ranging apparatus.

The Challenge

The lunar laser ranging equipment measures the earth-moon distance with millimeter precision. To measure the distance with such extraordinary accuracy requires short pulses of light directed to reflectors left on the moon by astronauts. The reflectors are located at specific points on the moon’s surface so measurements can be taken at various points in the lunar cycle. The distance is measured by the round-trip travel time of the light pulse bouncing off the lunar reflectors multiplied by the speed of light. The data helps determine the exact shape of the moon’s orbit and tests Einstein’s General Relativity against the gravity theory.

The Solution

Collecting this data is significant to the astrophysicist community. It is vital that the lunar laser is accurately aligned to reach the lunar reflectors, therefore, proper and routine calibration is essential for optimal functionality. Temperature swings, even minor ones, can result in inaccurate measurements or equipment failure which is a major concern.  Enclosing the calibration equipment and installing a cooling/heating solution to keep consistent temperatures is required for successful operation. The solution’s features required:

  • Outdoor rated enclosure
  • Capability to mount enclosure to cement platform
  • Cooling capability of 5C below maximum ambient temp
  • Heating capability of 35C above minimum ambient temp
  • Temperature control and remote monitoring capability

EIC Solutions started with a thermal sizing to determine the proper cooling/heating requirements for their specific application. The researchers worked closely with EIC’s team to meet the thermal and dimensional specifications. The final proposed solution was an EIC Protector Series Air Conditioned Enclosure that was both compact and robust featuring:

  • NEMA 4- Rack mount enclosure, powder coated, rated for outdoor use
  • 6” bolt down legs for mounting to cement platform
  • Solid State 1,500 BTU thermoelectric air conditioner including 400 watts of heat to meet thermal requirements
  • Digital temperature controller keeping a tight +/-1F temperature control
  • R-232 interface for remote monitoring

Benefits/Results

The environmentally controlled enclosure provides sufficient space to securely house the calibration equipment and maintains a constant operating temperature. Reducing the risk of equipment failure by sustaining tight temperature control will turn the millimeter precision of the equipment into millimeter accuracy of the collected data.

Many universities and research labs rely on EIC Solutions to provide precise temperature control and protection from the elements for their sensitive electronics.   If you need a recommendation for your application please contact a knowledgeable EIC Solutions sales engineer.


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EIC Solutions, Inc. specializes in the design and manufacturing of thermoelectric cooling systems, air conditioned electronic enclosures, and transit cases for a wide range of applications. Our products have been used in a variety of enclosure cooling applications involving the protection of electronic equipment both indoors and outdoors. EIC Solutions strives to provide the best resources and tools to help customers protect investments in sensitive electronics. If you have questions regarding any of our products please contact us at 800-497-4524 or visit our website at eicsolutions.com the best solution for your specific application.