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NASA's Geoscience Laser Altimeter System (GLAS) is a specially designed satellite that uses a laser altimeter to measure the thickness of the polar ice caps - an indicator of global warming. Because its laser transmits light through several instruments within the system, positional error between the various components must be extremely low. To ensure that it meets these requirements, NASA is using physical testing, computer simulation, Finite Element Analysis (FEA) and the Femap FEA modeling solution from Siemens to predict the response of the satellite to the stresses of space flight.
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