The Mars Observer spacecraft will be launched in early 1992 carrying a Laser Altimeter (MOLA). Data from MOLA will produce a global, geodetically referenced, 0.2° square grid of the Martian Surface, using 160-m-diameter surface foot-prints with an along-track sampling interval of 330 in. The ranging measurements will show surface variations of up to 80 m over the 100-m laser illumination spot, and have a vertical resolution of 1.5 m with a range-bias error of <5 m. MOLA's requirements are to operate with 90% orbit average ranging probabilities, with no tracking gaps greater than 3.3 km under normal Martian conditions.

© 1991 Optical Society of America

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