LARES succesfully launched in orbit: satellite and mission description by Antonio Paolozzi, Ignazio Ciufolini (arXiv)It's literally a disco ball, a completely passive object reflecting LASER lights sent from the Earth to its 92 retroreflectors, an 850-pound
The Extraordinary “Disco Ball” Now Orbiting Earth (Physics arXiv Blog)
Wikipedia, A LARES website (ASI, Italy), Lares-mission.COM
Recall that Gravity Probe B was very expensive and it was a disappointment, too. If LARES is going to measure these things and perhaps much more accurately, and for a tiny fraction of the price of Gravity Probe B, it will be another piece of evidence that substantial technological improvements are often possible and may allow us to measure things that were once thought to be inaccessible.
Well, the success of LARES will be a bit embarrassing for the people around the design of Gravity Probe B, too, including George Pugh (MIT) and Kip Thorne (Caltech), but their contributions may have been necessary for the progress, too. Things aren't usually invented in the optimal and maximally cheap form at the very beginning.
Because we talk about clever gadgets, let me also mention that the Bell Labs developed a lensless camera (preprint).