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Proceedings Paper

LAPE: laser altimeter for planetary exploration
Author(s): Eamonn M. Murphy; Nicola Rando; Peter Falkner; Anthony Peacock
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Paper Abstract

Laser based altimetry can be very beneficial for planetary exploration, especially in the absence of any significant atmosphere. This technique can provide accurate information on the surface profile (topographic mapping) in a fast and cost effective manner, allowing, within the characteristics of the spacecraft orbit, repeated global coverage of the planet surface. The key characteristics of planetary laser altimetry are therefore an adequate altitude resolution having a range appropriate for full coverage in a compact mission lifetime, an active measurement principle not requiring direct sun illumination, a relatively simple detection chain (as compared to radar based systems), a low resource budget (e.g. mass, power, envelope, data rate) and a relatively simple interface and integration with the spacecraft. A laser altimeter forms a key component for the ESA mission to Mercury, Bepi-Colombo, onboard the Mercury Planetary Orbiter, MPO. The European Space Agency (ESA) is promoting the study of a generic laser altimeter for planetary exploration. This definition study will use Mercury as a reference for the definition of the environmental and operational requirements.

Paper Details

Date Published: 12 January 2004
PDF: 7 pages
Proc. SPIE 5240, Laser Radar Technology for Remote Sensing, (12 January 2004);
Show Author Affiliations
Eamonn M. Murphy, European Space Agency/ESTEC (Netherlands)
Nicola Rando, European Space Agency/ESTEC (Netherlands)
Peter Falkner, European Space Agency/ESTEC (Netherlands)
Anthony Peacock, European Space Agency/ESTEC (Netherlands)

Published in SPIE Proceedings Vol. 5240:
Laser Radar Technology for Remote Sensing
Christian Werner, Editor(s)

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