NASA Office of Logic Design

NASA Office of Logic Design

A scientific study of the problems of digital engineering for space flight systems,
with a view to their practical solution.

Apollo 16 Laser Altimeter

NSSDC ID: 1972-031A-05
Mission Name: Apollo 16 Command and Service Module (CSM)
Principal Investigator: Dr. William M. Kaula

Mass: 22.5 kg


The laser altimeter was used to obtain data on the altitudes of the CSM above the lunar surface. The altimeter resolution was 1-m. The altimeter data was used to support the mapping and panoramic camera photography, to provide altitude data for other orbital experiments, and to relate lunar topographical features for a better definition of lunar shape. The altimeter was hard-mounted and aligned with the metric camera in the scientific instrument module bay of the CSM and operated automatically. Used with the mapping camera, its emitted pulse corresponded to a midframe ranging for each film frame exposed. The altimeter also operated in a decoupled mode from the metric camera in independent ranging measurements. The laser altimeter functioned nominally. A total of 2395 measurements were made with and overall reliability of 63.5%. The percentage of valid measurements gradually deteriorated down to 50% by rev 60, decreased abruptly to 5% on rev 63 which was the last photographic pass. The measurements were sufficient to provide the necessary cartographic control. CONTROL.


Name Role Original Affiliation E-mail
Dr. William M. Kaula Principal Investigator University of California, Los Angeles  


  • Planetary Science: Geology and Geophysics
Questions or comments about this experiment can be directed to: Dr. David R. Williams.

Apollo Laser Altimeters

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