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Processing and analysis of lunar laser ranging observations in Crimea in 1974-1984

E. I. Yagudina, D. A. Pavlov, V. N. Tryapitsyn, V. V. Rumyantsev

Proceedings of the 21st International Workshop on Laser Ranging (2018)

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Analysis of lunar laser ranging (LLR) observational data since 1969 to present time has demonstrated that the LLR is an effective method of Solar System research. It has been proven by building the high-precision ephemeris of the Solar System: DE (USA), EPM (Russia), INPOP (France), and parameters of lunar orbital and rotationalmotion, as well as others (geodynamical, relativistic), determined with high accuracy by different authors. LLR observation database presently contains more than 24000 normal points. In USSR, LLR measurements were performed in CrAO (Crimea) on the Shajn 2.6 m telescope with an automated laser ranging system developed by the Lebedev Physical Institute, and in the time span of 1969 to 1984 there were obtained 1400 measurements. The accuracy of the measurements, according to literature, was initially 3.0 m, and then was gradually improved to 0.6 m by 1978. Those measurements are not part in LLR observations database. Some of these observational data (176 photons for 1982–1984 and 103 normal points for earlier years) was stored in a CrAO facility in Katsiveli. The main purpose of our work was to process the Crimean observations (previously unpublished) with modernephemeris EPM2017, and to determine their place in the history of LLR. The real accuracy of these observations was estimated. The results of the processing and analysis are presented. A particularly interesting finding is related to the three normal points of Lunokhod 1 ranges obtained in 1974, which allowed Odile Calame to determine the rover’s position with a few kilometers accuracy. Unfortunately, that was not enough to confirm the location of the rover at the McDonald observatory. As we see now, those three ranges had sub-meter accuracy and if CrAO gathered more data, Lunokhod 1 could have been found in that time.