48th LPSC Masursky Lecture
Planetary Topography from Laser Altimetry
Presented by Dr. David E. Smith, Massachusetts Institute of Technology
David Smith came to the U.S. after completing his education at Durham and London Universities in England, joining the staff at the NASA Goddard Space Flight Center shortly after he arrived. His early work was on crustal kinematics and Earth gravity field modeling, and during his time at Goddard was the head of the Laboratory for Terrestrial Physics, leading an international team to measure the motions of Earth’s tectonic plates using space geodetic techniques. In the late 1980s, when the U.S. decided to return to Mars, he transitioned to the field of planetary science and moved to the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT). Smith was the P.I. for laser altimeters on the Mars Global Surveyor, which provided the first global geodetic quality coordinate frame and topography for Mars. He also served on the team for the MESSENGER mission to Mercury, led the gravity and laser altimetry investigation on the Clementine mission to the Moon in the early 1990s, and was a member of the Laser Ranging science team on the NEAR Shoemaker mission to asteroid 433 Eros. At MIT he is currently the P.I. of the Lunar Orbiter Laser Altimeter (LOLA) instrument on the Lunar Reconnaissance Orbiter mission, which is still operating after nearly eight years in lunar orbit, and Deputy P.I. for the GRAIL gravity mission to the Moon.