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Chin. Phys. B, 2022, Vol. 31(5): 050602    DOI: 10.1088/1674-1056/ac3068
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Penumbra lunar eclipse observations reveal anomalous thermal performance of Lunakhod 2 reflectors

Tian-Quan Gao(高添泉), Cai-Shi Zhang(张才士), Hong-Chao Zhao(赵宏超), Li-Xiang Zhou(周立祥), Xian-Lin Wu(吴先霖), Hsienchi Yeh(叶贤基), and Ming Li(李明)
MOE Key Laboratory of TianQin Mission, TianQin Research Center for Gravitational Physics & School of Physics and Astronomy, Frontiers Science Center for TianQin, CNSA Research Center for Gravitational Waves, Sun Yat-sen University (Zhuhai Campus), Zhuhai 519082, China
Abstract  As the signal reflected by the corner-cube reflector arrays is very weak and easily submerged during the full moon, we analyze the influence of the thermal effect of corner-cube reflector arrays on the intensity of lunar laser ranging echo. Laser ranging measurements during the penumbra lunar eclipse verify suspected thermal deformation in the Lunakhod 2 reflectors. Signal levels vary over two orders of magnitude as the penumbra eclipse progresses. This can be explained by the change in the dihedral angle of the corner-cube reflectors caused by the temperature. The results show that when the dihedral angle errors reach 1'', the energy is reduced by 100 times compared with the ideal corner-cube reflector. In the experiment, our findings suggest that when the corner-cube reflector arrays enter the penumbra of the earth, the effective echo signal level which reaches 0.18 photons/s far exceeds the historical level of the full moon. However, 11 minutes after the penumbra lunar eclipse, the effective echo rate of Lunakhod 2 will drop two orders of magnitude. The mechanism can explain the acute signal deficit observed at full moon.
Keywords:  lunar laser ranging      corner-cube reflector arrays      dihedral angle errors      penumbra lunar eclipse  
Received:  26 August 2021      Revised:  08 October 2021      Accepted manuscript online: 
PACS:  06.30.-k (Measurements common to several branches of physics and astronomy)  
  07.07.Df (Sensors (chemical, optical, electrical, movement, gas, etc.); remote sensing)  
  07.60.-j (Optical instruments and equipment)  
Fund: Project supported by the National Natural Science Foundation of China (Grant No.12033009).
Corresponding Authors:  Ming Li,     E-mail:
About author:  2021-10-18

Cite this article: 

Tian-Quan Gao(高添泉), Cai-Shi Zhang(张才士), Hong-Chao Zhao(赵宏超), Li-Xiang Zhou(周立祥), Xian-Lin Wu(吴先霖), Hsienchi Yeh(叶贤基), and Ming Li(李明) Penumbra lunar eclipse observations reveal anomalous thermal performance of Lunakhod 2 reflectors 2022 Chin. Phys. B 31 050602

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