OSA's Digital Library

Applied Optics

Applied Optics


  • Editor: Joseph N. Mait
  • Vol. 52, Iss. 36 — Dec. 20, 2013
  • pp: 8676–8684

Next-generation hollow retroreflectors for lunar laser ranging

Alix Preston and Stephen Merkowitz  »View Author Affiliations

Applied Optics, Vol. 52, Issue 36, pp. 8676-8684 (2013)

View Full Text Article

Enhanced HTML    Acrobat PDF (301 KB)

Browse Journals / Lookup Meetings

Browse by Journal and Year


Lookup Conference Papers

Close Browse Journals / Lookup Meetings

Article Tools



The three retroreflector arrays put on the Moon 40 years ago by the Apollo astronauts and the French-built arrays on the Soviet Lunokhod rovers continue to be useful targets, and have provided the most stringent tests of the Strong Equivalence Principle and the time variation of Newton’s gravitational constant, as well as valuable insight into the Moon’s interior. However, the precision of the ranging measurements are now being limited by the physical size of the arrays and a new generation of retroreflectors is required to make significant advances over current capabilities. Large single-cube retroreflectors represent the most promising approach to overcoming current limitations, and hollow retroreflectors in particular have the potential to maintain their good optical performance over the nearly 300 K temperature swing that occurs during the lunar cycle. Typically, epoxies are used for aligning and bonding hollow retroreflectors, but their thermal stability will predominantly be limited by the difference of the coefficient of thermal expansion (CTE) between the epoxy and the glass. A relatively new bonding method known as hydroxide catalysis bonding (HCB) has been used to adhere complex optical components for space-based missions. HCB has an extremely thin bond, a low CTE, and a high breaking strength that makes it an ideal candidate for bonding hollow retroreflectors for lunar laser ranging (LLR). In this work, we present results of a feasibility study of bonded Pyrex and fused silica hollow retroreflectors using both epoxy and HCB methods, including the results of thermally cycling the hollow retroreflectors from 295 to 185 K. Finally, we discuss the potential for using these retroreflectors for future LLR.

© 2013 Optical Society of America

OCIS Codes
(120.3930) Instrumentation, measurement, and metrology : Metrological instrumentation
(220.1140) Optical design and fabrication : Alignment
(080.4035) Geometric optics : Mirror system design
(120.6085) Instrumentation, measurement, and metrology : Space instrumentation

ToC Category:
Instrumentation, Measurement, and Metrology

Original Manuscript: September 20, 2013
Revised Manuscript: November 17, 2013
Manuscript Accepted: November 19, 2013
Published: December 13, 2013

Alix Preston and Stephen Merkowitz, "Next-generation hollow retroreflectors for lunar laser ranging," Appl. Opt. 52, 8676-8684 (2013)

Sort:  Author  |  Year  |  Journal  |  Reset  


  1. S. Merkowitz, “Tests of gravity using lunar laser ranging,” Living Rev. Relativity 13, 7 (2010). [CrossRef]
  2. T. W. Murphy, “Lunar laser ranging: the millimeter challenge,” Rep. Prog. Phys. 76, 076901 (2013). [CrossRef]
  3. T. W. Murphy, E. Adelberger, J. Battat, C. Hoyle, R. McMillan, E. Michelsen, R. Samad, C. Stubbs, and H. Swanson, “Long-term degradation of optical devices on the Moon,” Icarus 208, 31–35 (2010). [CrossRef]
  4. S. M. Merkowitz, P. W. Dabney, J. C. Livas, J. F. McGarry, G. A. Neumann, and T. W. Zagwodzki, “Laser ranging for gravitational, lunar, and planetary science,” Int. J. Mod. Phys. D 16, 2151–2164 (2007). [CrossRef]
  5. T. W. Murphy, E. Adelberger, J. Battat, C. Hoyle, N. Johnson, R. McMillan, E. Michelsen, C. Stubbs, and H. Swanson, “Laser ranging to the lost Lunokhod 1 reflector,” Icarus 211, 1103–1108 (2011). [CrossRef]
  6. P. Bender, D. Currie, R. Dicke, D. Eckhardt, J. Faller, W. Kaula, J. Mullholland, H. Plotkin, S. Poultney, E. Silverberg, D. Wilkinson, J. Williams, and C. Alley, “The lunar laser ranging experiment,” Science 182, 229–238 (1973). [CrossRef]
  7. J. G. Williams, S. G. Turyshev, and D. H. Boggs, “Lunar laser ranging tests of the equivalence principle,” Class. Quantum Grav. 29, 184004 (2012). [CrossRef]
  8. T. W. Murphy, E. Adelberger, J. Battat, C. Hoyle, R. M. N. Johnson, C. Stubbs, and H. Swanson, “APOLLO: millimeter lunar laser ranging,” Class. Quantum Grav. 29, 184005 (2012). [CrossRef]
  9. D. Currie, S. DellAgnello, and G. D. Monache, “A lunar laser ranging retroreflector array for the 21st century,” Acta Astronaut. 68, 667–680 (2011). [CrossRef]
  10. S. Goodrow and T. Murphy, “Effects of thermal gradients on total internal reflection corner cubes,” Appl. Opt. 51, 8793–8799 (2012). [CrossRef]
  11. D. Gwo, S. Wang, K. Bower, D. Davidson, P. Ehrersberger, L. Huff, E. Romero, M. Sullivan, K. Triebes, and J. Lipa, “The gravity Probe-B star-tracking telescope,” Adv. Space Res. 32, 1401–1405 (2003). [CrossRef]
  12. D. Gwo, “Ultra-precision bonding for cryogenic fused-silica optics,” Proc. SPIE 3435, 136–142 (1998). [CrossRef]
  13. D. Gwo, “Hydroxide-catalyzed bonding,” U.S. patent6548176 (April15, 2013).
  14. P. Mammini, “A bonded precision optical assembly using potassium hydroxide,” Proc. SPIE 7425, 74250O (2009). [CrossRef]
  15. A. Preston, B. Balaban, and G. Mueller, “Hydroxide-bonding strength measurements for space-based optical missions,” Int. J. Appl. Ceram. Tech. 5, 365–372 (2008).
  16. A. Preston and G. Mueller, “Bonding SiC to SiC using a sodium silicate solution,” Int. J. Appl. Ceram. Tech. 9, 764–771 (2012).
  17. E. Elliffe, J. Bogenstahl, A. Deshpande, J. Hough, C. Killow, S. Reid, D. Robertson, S. Rowan, and G. Cagnoli, “Hydroxide-catalysis bonding for stable optical systems for space,” Class. Quantum Grav. 22, S257–S267 (2005). [CrossRef]
  18. N. Beveridge, A. Van Veggel, M. Hendry, P. Murray, R. Montgomery, E. Jesse, J. Scott, R. Bezensek, L. Cunningham, J. Hough, R. Nawrodt, S. Reid, and S. Rowan, “Low-temperature strength tests and SEM imaging of hydroxide catalysis bonds in silicon,” Class. Quantum Grav. 28, 085014 (2011). [CrossRef]
  19. J. Lyons and P. Hayes, “High-optical-quality cryogenic hollow retroreflectors,” Proc. SPIE 2540, 94–100 (1995). [CrossRef]

Cited By

Alert me when this paper is cited

OSA is able to provide readers links to articles that cite this paper by participating in CrossRef's Cited-By Linking service. CrossRef includes content from more than 3000 publishers and societies. In addition to listing OSA journal articles that cite this paper, citing articles from other participating publishers will also be listed.


Fig. 1. Fig. 2. Fig. 3.

« Previous Article  |  Next Article »

OSA is a member of CrossRef.

CrossCheck Deposited