Shoot the Moon

Physics and Astronomy Technician Shoots Giant Laser at the Moon
April 16, 2015
Green laser being shot at the moon

More than four decades may have passed since man has set foot on the moon, but last year Sonoma State University equipment technician Steve Anderson shot a giant laser at it. 

Working in conjunction with a local Sonoma County laser light show studio, Anderson created a 100-Watt laser projector, over 20,000 times more powerful than a typical handheld laser. Anderson demonstrated the laser as part of a visual display the night before the launch of the Orion Spacecraft at the Kennedy Space Center (KSC) in Florida on December 5, and participated in the Holidays in Space events later that month.

Before the Orion launch, Anderson's green laser fired straight up at Mars, symbolizing "green for go" for future space missions. NASA hopes to utilize the Orion spacecraft for space exploration missions, including missions to Mars. 

Anderson also assisted in operating two pairs of high-powered lasers and an additional 120-watt laser--the largest laser used by NASA--to track the International Space Station as it quickly passed overhead. Anderson was able to line the laser up with the space station and follow its arc before parking the laser on the moon for a nice snapshot.

At Sonoma State, Anderson is highly respected by his peers and is the recipient of the 2013-2014 SSU Excellence Award.

On campus, Anderson is constantly fixing equipment and improving processes that enhance the teaching experience at Sonoma State. He participates in community-oriented events such like science fairs and the public viewing nights at the Sonoma State observatory.

Anderson also played a key role in designing, building and maintaining the housing for the liquid nitrogen supply used by the school of science and technology and the student health center, saving the university a considerable amount of money.

--Tom Arthurs


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