LARES, acronym for LAser RElativity Satellite, is a passive, laser ranged satellite.

The main goal of LARES mission is the measurement of the frame dragging effect (also known as Lense-Thirring effect).

LARES was launched on February 13th, 2012, from the European Spaceport of Kourou (French Guyana), with the maiden flight of the new ESA small launcher VEGA.

Principal Investigator of the mission is Prof. Ignazio Ciufolini (Università del Salento - Italy).


LARES, a completely passive satellite, is a sphere made of high density tungsten alloy, covered with 92 cube corner reflectors (CCR) for precise laser-ranging of the satellite from Earth stations.

The satellite body has been manufactured from a single piece of tungsten alloy. All the metal components of the satellite (body, CCR mounting rings and screws) are made of the same alloy.

  Lares_img LARES Dimensions.

  Diameter:              364 mm
  Mass:                   386.8 kg
  Number of CCRs:   92

 LARES orbit.

  Altitude:             1450 km
  Inclination:          69.5 degrees
  Eccentricity:       0.0

 LARES facts.

 LARES is the densest known object orbiting in the Solar System.