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Past News

2017

Holiday tree with images from around the ILRSHoliday Greetings from the ILRS GB and CBRelease Date: 12/18/2017The Governing Board and the Central Bureau of the International Laser Ranging Service extend our sincere thanks to you for your participation in service activities during 2017!

Once again, another busy year comes to an end for the ILRS. We saw the launch of new several missions requiring laser ranging support, new products under development, stations undergoing development, upgrade and improvement, participation in a very successful 2017 ILRS Technical Workshop in Riga, and new challenges and opportunities opening up for our community through GGOS and other international activities. We thank you for your continued support of the ILRS and its mission.

We also send our best wishes to you and your families during this holiday season and for a healthy, successful, and Happy New Year. We look forward to continued cooperation and success in 2018!

Pippo Bianco, Mike Pearlman, and Carey Noll



ILRS logoCDDIS Computer System Outage will affect ILRS websiteRelease Date: 11/15/2017CDDIS must undergo an unplanned outage on 16-Nov-2017 from 14:00-18:00 EST (19:00–22:00 UTC) to replace critical system hardware. Because the ILRS website is hosted on the CDDIS server, there may be extended interruptions in connectivity to the ILRS website during this period. We expect that the system outage will not require the full 4 hours but have allocated time to address any unforeseen issues.

We apologize for any inconvenience these outages may cause the user community.


GRACE satellitesGRACE mission ends science operationsRelease Date: 10/27/2017After more than 15 productive years in orbit, the U.S./German GRACE (Gravity Recovery and Climate Experiment) satellite mission has ended science operations. During their mission, the twin GRACE satellites have provided unprecedented insights into how our planet is changing by tracking the continuous movement of liquid water, ice and the solid Earth.

Read more...


ILRS logoInterruptions in network connectivity to ILRS websiteRelease Date: 10/27/2017The CDDIS network will undergo maintenance on Tuesday, October 31, 2017 between 15:00 - 19:00 UTC. Because the ILRS website is hosted on the CDDIS server, there may be extended interruptions in connectivity to the ILRS website during this maintenance period but we expect only short 5-10 minute outages during the timeframe.

We apologize for any inconvenience these outages may cause the user community.


GRACE satelliteGRACE-B to be decommissionedRelease Date: 09/11/2017After over 15 years of successful operations, the GRACE-B satellite will be decommissioned due to battery and fuel problems. The community was pleased to contribute to this exciting mission and looks forward to future collaborations on future gravity missions such as the GRACE Follow-On (GRACE-FO) mission.

Charles The passing of Charles "Chuck" LundquistRelease Date: 08/24/2017The SLR community is sad to report that Charles (Chuck) Lundquist passed away on June 3, 2017. Chuck was at the Smithsonian Astrophysical Observatory in the 1960s and, as Associate Director for Science, helped guide the Satellite Tracking Program that was a forerunner of our current space geodesy program. He was a very strong advocate of both Satellite Laser Ranging and VLBI, and in general, greatly encouraged international programs. Some of you may recall meeting Chuck at the International Workshop on Laser Ranging in Annapolis a few years ago and hearing some of the fascinating stories about the early space program. More about Chuck’s career can be found in his published obituary.

ILRS logo2017 ILRS Technical Workshop: Second circularRelease Date: 07/21/2017The Institute of Astronomy at the University of Latvia and the International Laser Ranging Service (ILRS) will host the 2017 ILRS Technical Workshop on October 02 through 05, 2017 in Riga, Latvia. The second circular, containing important information about upcoming deadlines, is now available. The first circular for the workshop was issued in February 2017 and contains information about the workshop topics.

Cover of the Journal of GeodesyPrinted version of the Journal of Geodesy Special Issue on VLBI now availableRelease Date: 06/21/2017The printed version of the Journal of Geodesy Special Issue on VLBI: Journal of Geodesy, Volume 91, Issue 7, July 2017, is now available at https://link.springer.com/journal/190/91/7/page/1. This volume includes a Preface and 14 scientific articles devoted to various aspects of the VLBI theory, methodology and data analysis.

ILRS logoILRS approves new network application form and policyRelease Date: 06/14/2017The ILRS has approved a new policy and application form for new stations to join the ILRS network.

Satellite laser ranging at GSFC.Innovation column in GPS World discusses importance of laser ranging to GNSS satellitesRelease Date: 05/25/2017In the May 2017 Innovation column of GPS World, author Urs Hugentobler discusses the importance of laser ranging to GNSS satellites for improvement in modeling the orbits of these satellites. Better GNSS satellite orbits result in better receiver position accuracies, which are required to improve monitoring of Earth processes.

NRK TV (Norway) features the need for a precise Terrestrial Reference Frame, and discusses role of NASA and the Space Geodesy ProgramRelease Date: 04/14/2017NRK TV in Norway has published a video feature (in Norwegian) discussing the importance,and challenges of global cooperation in making precise measurements to support the maintenance of an international terrestrial reference frame necessary for natural hazard and global change studies. The video also discusses the future plans for cooperation with NASA in the construction of the geodetic station in Ny Alesund. The video features interviews (in English) with SGP Manager Stephen Merkowitz (Code 61A @ NASA GSFC; time index 5:26, 8:45, 10:20) and colleagues Hayo Hase (AGGO, La Plata Argentina ; time index 11:14 20:07) Ludwig Combrinck (HartRAO, South Africa; time index 6:24, 17:24); Per Erik Opseth, Laila Lovhoiden, Gary Johnston (Geoscience Australia, time index 20:53, 23:05), and others, as well as a visit to NASA GSFC and GGAO. The full URL for the television program is: https://tv.nrk.no/program/KOID75001017/jakten-paa-den-eksakte-posisjon.

NASA logoUpcoming maintenance on CDDIS and ILRS email explodersRelease Date: 04/14/2017The NASA system used for CDDIS and ILRS email exploders will be undergoing maintenance from 13:00 - 17:00 UTC on April 23.

ILRS logo ILRS 2017 Technical Workshop: First circularRelease Date: 03/29/2017The Institute of Astronomy at the University of Latvia and the International Laser Ranging Service (ILRS) will host the 2017 ILRS Technical Workshop on October 02 through 05, 2017 in Riga, Latvia. The program committee for the 2017 ILRS Technical Workshop, to be held in Riga Latvia, October 02-05, 2017, has issued the meeting’s first circular. The workshop will have four sessions held over four days.

The workshop sessions will be focused on:

  • What are the current and anticipated laser ranging requirements for the various satellites and have we defined them properly?
  • How do we evaluate our current performance and is it adequate?
  • What factors are currently limiting our network performance?
  • What operational steps and tools would help us to better meet satellite ranging accuracy and scheduling requirements?
  • What automation capabilities have been implemented or are planned for implementation, and what automation capabilities should stations consider?

illustration of SpinSat satelliteSpinSat re-enters Earth's atmosphereRelease Date: 03/22/2017NRL/Jake Griffiths has informed the ILRS that SpinSat re-entered late on March 11, 2017. The last track of the satellite was received that day at 22:39 UTC from a Space Surveillance Network station located in the UK. NRL has expressed its gratitude to the ILRS for supporting the mission.

ILRS logoNew ILRS AAC at IGIGRelease Date: 03/22/2017The ILRS is pleased to welcome the Wroclaw University of Enviromental and Life Sciences (WUELS), Institute of Geodesy and Geoinformatics (IGIG) as an ILRS Associate Analysis Center (AAC). Krzysztof Sosnica’s group at the Institute is generating scientific products based on the SLR observations to new GNSS systems on the operational basis. IGIG generates daily reports that include a comparison between IGS MGEX orbits of GLONASS, Galileo, BeiDou MEO, BeiDou IGSO and QZSS satellites and SLR observations collected by a global network of ILRS stations.



ILRS logoILRS survey of user tracking needsRelease Date: 03/21/2017Many stations in the ILRS network are nearly saturated in their tracking schedule. The ILRS is presently assessing its tracking needs to try to maximize its utility. We recently sent out an email to various ILRS users and groups to ask for user needs. If you want your needs to be considered, and did not receive an email invitation, please send an email to Erricos Pavlis (epavlis @ umbc.edu). Once we compile the results, the ILRS plans to make revisions to its tracking list based on users needs. Therefore, user input is critical. The survey should not take you more than 5-10 minutes to complete, depending on your level of involvement with SLR data. Thank you for supporting the ILRS!



Russian SLR at Hart RAORussian satellite laser and radio ranging system has officially been inaugurated in South AfricaRelease Date: 03/07/2017A new SLR station has recently been installed at the Hartebeesthoek Radio Astronomy Observatory (HartRAO). The system was designed, produced and installed by JC <<RPC <<PSI>>. An opening ceremony, led by the Russian State Space Corporation (Roscosmos), was held on February 27, 2017 and attended by representatives from both Russia and South Africa; more information about the system and the dedication is available (in English) from the HartRAO website and the South African Department of Science and Technology.



US Space Command emblemDesignation "NORAD ID" changed to "Satellite Catalog Number"Release Date: 01/11/2017The ILRS, and other groups, have used the term "NORAD ID" for the sequential, 5-digit number assigned to satellite missions after launch. This designation was previously assigned and maintained by NORAD (North American Aerospace Defense Command). The assignment is now performed by The United States Space Command (USSPACECOM); therefore, the designation NORAD ID has been changed to the Satellite Catalog Number on the ILRS mission pages and lists.



2016

holiday greetingsHoliday Greetings from the ILRSRelease Date: 12/31/2016The Governing Board and the Central Bureau of the International Laser Ranging Service would like to extend our sincere thanks to you and your colleagues for your participation in service activities during 2016.

The year 2016 has once again been a very busy year for the ILRS where we supported new missions and the generation of data and products for the international research community. We sponsored the very successful 20th International Workshop on Laser Ranging in Potsdam in October. The ILRS also participated in various international activities and GGOS. We thank you for your continued support of the ILRS and its mission.

We would like to send our warmest wishes for a wonderful holiday season to all of our ILRS colleagues, staff members, and their families. Best wishes for a healthy and Happy New Year.

We look forward to even more successes in 2017!

Pippo Bianco, Mike Pearlman, and Carey Noll



CDDIS logoCDDIS successfully moves all primary operations to an upgraded computer systemRelease Date: 12/01/2016The CDDIS successfully moved all primary operations to an upgraded computer system on December 01, 2016; in total, the CDDIS archive was inaccessible to the user community for approximately 30 hours during the transition. The new IT infrastructure provides a more robust, reliable, and expandable system with increased storage capacity to handle future growth. All suppliers of data, derived products, and ancillary files for the CDDIS archive were required to modify their software to use the HTTP protocol for file upload. In addition to new hardware, the CDDIS archive processing software was redesigned and improved to provide for more efficient operations and additional QC on incoming files.



ILRS logoUpdate to ILRS Terms of ReferenceRelease Date: 11/17/2016The IAG has recently approved the update to the ILRS Terms of Reference.



CDDIS logoCDDIS unavailable November 30-December 01 for transition to new systemsRelease Date: 11/17/2016On November 30, 2016 at 13:00 UTC, CDDIS will terminate all services (ftp, CDDIS/ILRS/SGP websites, data deliveries) as we transition to all new hardware and facilities. We are projecting about 24 hours to fully move to our new facilities and ensure all operations are back to normal. As such, all users need to plan on a 24+ hour disruption of service to the CDDIS archive with resumption of normal operations no earlier than December 01, 2016 at 17:00 UTC.

In summary the following will take place:

  • 30 November 2016 at 13:00 UTC – All current production services (ftp, http, etc) will be shutdown.
  • 01 December 2016 at 17:00 UTC – all web and anonymous ftp access is restored for access to the archive. NOTE: restoration could occur sooner but no guarantees are made.
  • Currently used addresses, e.g., cddis.nasa.gov or cddis.gsfc.nasa.gov, will continue to work as before the transition. However, if you are using a numeric IP address to access any CDDIS resources your scripts will fail as all current IP addresses will change during the transition.
  • 02 December 2016 – All CDDIS operations should be returned to normal service.
While CDDIS is unavailable, users can access one of the other data centers supporting the services:

lw20 logoWorkshop website for the 20th International Workshop on Laser Ranging 2016 in PotsdamRelease Date: 11/09/2016A dedicated ILRS website for the 20th International Workshop on Laser Ranging 2016 in Potsdam is now available at http://cddis.gsfc.nasa.gov/lw20/ which also contains instructions for preparing contributions to the proceedings. Please follow the instructions and be aware of the deadline January 31, 2017.



NASA logoBrief network outages at GSFC on September 03, 2016Release Date: 08/30/2016 Work will be performed on the NASA GSFC network infrastructure from 09:00 a.m. EDT (13:00 UTC) through 05:00 p.m. EDT (21:00 UTC) on Saturday, September 03, 2016. Users may experience short intermittent interruptions in connectivity to CDDIS web and ftp sites during that time period.

Should the CDDIS be unaccessible, users can access one of the other data centers supporting the services:

We regret any problems this work may cause the user community.

Ajisai satelliteAjisai celebrates 30 years in space Release Date: 08/13/2016JAXA launched the Ajisai spacecraft from the Tanegashima Space Center on August 13, 1986 at 05:45 JST. Ajisai is Japan’s first geometric satellite. Read more about the anniversary celebration.



Dr. Erricos C. Pavlis with a Global Navigation Satellite System (GNSS) receiver.User Profile: Dr. Erricos C. Pavlis Release Date: 08/11/2016NASA Earthdata has published a user profile of Dr. Erricos Pavlis as part of their "Who uses NASA Earth science data?" series.



Galileo satelliteGalileo-205 and -206 are now in working orbits and will soon broadcast test navigation signals.Release Date: 08/17/2016Europe’s fifth and sixth Galileo satellites, which were salvaged from their faulty launch into working orbits, are set to begin broadcasting working navigation signals for test purposes. Read more



Cover of the Journal of GeodesyPaper regarding estimation of systematic errors in LAGEOS observations 1993–2014 publishedRelease Date: 07/25/2016A paper by Graham Appleby, José Rodríguez, and Zuheir Altamimi, titled, "Assessment of the accuracy of global geodetic satellite laser ranging observations and estimated impact on ITRF scale: estimation of systematic errors in LAGEOS observations 1993–2014," has been published in the August, 2016 issue of the Journal of Geodesy. doi:10.1007/s00190-016-0929-2.



20th ILRS Workshop bannerFirst Circular for the 20th International Workshop on Laser Ranging ReleasedRelease Date: 07/19/2016 GFZ Potsdam and the International Laser Ranging Service (ILRS) are pleased to announce that the 20th International Workshop on Laser Ranging will be held in Potsdam Germany during the week of October 09-14, 2016 at GFZ Potsdam, Telegrafenberg. The first circular has been released.

March 2016 cover of the European Physical JournalLARES + LAGEOS 1&2 Lense-Thirring results selected as EPJ-C coverRelease Date: 07/19/2016 The article, "A test of general relativity using the LARES and LAGEOS satellites and a GRACE Earth gravity model," (Ciufolini et. al.) has been published in the March 2016 issue of the European Physical Journal-C. Furthermore, a figure from this paper has been selected for the cover of that issue.

Crustal Dynamics Project LogoThe passing of Dr. Bob CoatesRelease Date: 07/12/2016 We are saddened to report the passing of Dr. Bob Coates, a long time colleague in the field of space geodesy. Bob was the Project Manager for NASA’s very successful Crustal Dynamics Project (CDP). Bob helped advance the SLR and VLBI technologies at NASA GSFC, incorporating them as the key measurement components of the CDP, which succeeded in describing the relative motions of the Earth’s plates with unprecedented accuracies. He will be remembered for his many contributions in both science and engineering, and for his guidance and encouragement to those who worked in the program.

image of upper part of a clock showing numbers 11, 12 and 1.Positive leap second to be introducedRelease Date: 07/11/2016 A positive leap second will be introduced at the end of December 2016. More information is available from the IERS.

Earthdata logoNASA Space Geodesy Data for Precise Orbit Determination of Altimeter Satellites Webinar (NASA Earthdata webinar series)Release Date: 06/29/2016 Over the last 25 years, ocean radar altimeter satellites have revolutionized our understanding of the world’s oceans. Today six altimeter satellites from different national and international space agencies synoptically measure the ocean surface topography in order to determine how the ocean surface changes with time. The heart of the altimeter measurement is the precise determination of the orbit reference which is used as the basis from which the changes in the ocean surface are determined. We now routinely determine the orbits of the joint NASA/CNES/NOAA/EUMETSAT missions Jason-2 and Jason-3 with a radial RMS precision of 1 cm.

This webinar describes how we can compute these orbits with such accuracy, and will further outline how these computations rely directly and indirectly on a suite of international Space Geodesy data as well as data from different NASA satellites.

ILRS Networks and Engineering Standing Committee Forum LogoILRS Networks and Engineering SC ForumRelease Date: 06/15/2016 The ILRS Networks and Engineering Standing Committee (NESC) has created an online forum to allow colleagues to discuss issues, develop ideas, pose questions, and ask for or provide advice. Although the forum was created within the NESC, membership is open to the ILRS community in general. The forum is accessible at: http://sgf.rgo.ac.uk/forumNESC/.

Norwegian Mapping Authority logoNorway's contribution to the Global Geodetic Reference FrameRelease Date: 05/23/2016 From the Norwegian Mapping Authority: Norway's contribution to the Global Geodetic Reference Frame: The Geodetic Earth Observatory in Ny-Ålesund, Svalbard. The UN General Assembly has adopted its first resolution recognising the importance of geodesy. Norway co-chaired work on the first UN resolution. Its most important contribution is the Norwegian Mapping Authority's geodetic Earth observatory in Ny-Ålesund on Svalbard. This is the northernmost facility of its kind, and plays a key role in a global network for observation and research. Data acquired here are important for climate research and monitoring.

LAGEOS satelliteNow 40, NASA's LAGEOS Set the Bar for Studies of EarthRelease Date: 05/04/2016 On May 4, 1976, NASA launched a cannonball-shaped satellite that transformed studies of Earth’s shape, rotation and gravity field.

LAGEOS – short for Laser Geodynamic Satellite – was the first NASA orbiter dedicated to the precision measurement technique called laser ranging. With it, scientists have measured the movement of Earth’s tectonic plates, detected irregularities in the rotation of the planet, weighed it, and tracked small shifts in its center of mass.

Small deviations in the satellite’s orbit were used to develop early models of Earth’s gravitational field. Further perturbations in the orbit helped explain how sunlight heating small objects can affect their orbits, including near-Earth asteroids.

Read more...

Carey NollData Chat: Carey Noll Release Date: 04/28/2016 NASA Earthdata has published an interview with CDDIS Manager Carey Noll as part of their "Data chat" series.

Read more...

Galileo satelliteThe GREAT experimentRelease Date: 04/27/2016 The unplanned eccentric orbit of Galileo-201 and -202 provides a unique opportunity to study the behavior of on-board clocks and the gravitational redshift predicted by General Relativity. The Galileo-201 and -202 satellites, the first two Fully Operational Capability (FOC) satellites, were launched on August 22, 2014. Due to technical problems with the launch, these satellites remain in an elliptical orbit, which is not useful for the Galileo operations.

Colleagues with the Galileo mission have proposed a one-year, ESA funded experiment, GREAT (Galileo gravitational Redshift Experiment with eccentric sATellites) during which the SLR will provide periods of intensive tracking on Galileo-201. The GREAT experiment will begin May 1, 2016. The stations in the ILRS network are asked to support this experiment.

20th ILRS Workshop bannerThe 20th International Workshop on Laser RangingRelease Date: 03/22/2016 The 20th International Workshop on Laser Ranging will be held at the Helmholtz Centre Potsdam/GFZ German Research Centre for Geosciences in Potsdam Germany on October 09-14, 2016. More information, including registration and abstraction submission deadlines, is available on the workshop’s website: http://iwslr2016.gfz-potsdam.de/international-workshop-on-laser-ranging/

Vladimir VasilievHappy Birthday Vladimir Vasiliev!Release Date: 03/21/2016 The ILRS sends warmest wishes to our colleague Prof. Vladimir Vasiliev who celebrated his 85th birthday on March 18, 2016. He continues to actively contribute to various space projects, including those of interest to the ILRS. Prof. Vasiliev is a Doctor of Technical Science and Chief Research Scientist at JC «RPC «PSI». He is also the author of 5 monographs and more than 250 scientific papers. Happy Birthday Vladimir!

12-meter (39-foot) antenna at the Kōke‘e Park Geophysical Observatory in HawaiiNASA Station Leads Way for Improved Measurements of Earth Orientation, ShapeRelease Date: 03/10/2016 NASA has demonstrated the success of advanced technology for making precise measurements of Earth’s orientation and rotation – information that helps provide a foundation for navigation of all space missions and for geophysical studies of our planet.

The technology includes a new class of radio antenna and electronics that provide broadband capabilities for Very Long Baseline Interferometry, or VLBI. This technique is used to make precise measurements of Earth in space and time.

VLBI measurements have been conducted for decades using a worldwide network of stations that carry out coordinated observations of very distant astronomical objects called quasars. To meet the demand for more precise measurements, a new global network of stations, called the VLBI Global Observing System, or VGOS, is being rolled out to replace the legacy network.

Read more...

ILRS logoNew version of the ILRS Mission Support Request form released Release Date: 03/09/2016 Under the direction of the ILRS Missions Standing Committee (Toshi Otsubo and Scott Wetzel) and the ILRS Central Bureau, a new version of the ILRS Mission Support Request form has been formulated and posted on the ILRS website:

http://ilrs.gsfc.nasa.gov/missions/mission_support/new_mission_support.html

This new form, available in Adobe PDF forms format, provides an improved method for obtaining the information required by the ILRS to support future missions. The form is easier to fill out and read; some additional questions have been added while obsolete, previously requested information has been removed. We encourage our mission colleagues to take a look at the new form and use it the next time support for a new mission is required!

Thanks to Toshi, Scott, the MSC, and the ILRS CB for their work on and reviews of the new MSR form.

Carroll AlleyThe passing of Carroll AlleyRelease Date: 03/02/2016 The ILRS is sad to report that Carroll Alley, Professor Emeritus of physics at the University of Maryland College Park passed away on February 24, 2016. Dr. Alley was the Principal Investigator for the Lunar Laser Ranging Retroreflector experiment placed on the Moon in 1969 by the crew of Apollo 11. More information can be found at: http://www.legacy.com/obituaries/name/carroll-alley-obituary?pid=1000000177892088. Carroll was a person of great vision and strength to the scientific community.

map of the worldNASA Contributes to Global Standard for Navigation, Studies of EarthRelease Date: 02/25/2016 The surface of Earth is constantly being reshaped by earthquakes, volcanic eruptions, landslides, floods, changes in sea levels and ice sheets, and other processes. Since some of these changes amount to only millimeters per year, scientists must make very precise measurements of the landscape and ocean in space and time in order to study their evolution and help mitigate their impacts.

Read more...

ILRS logoWorking Groups now called "Standing Committees"Release Date: 02/24/2016 The IAG, which is the parent organization of the ILRS, has informed the ILRS that we can no longer use the term "Working Group" for our entities that have a lifetime longer than four years. Therefore, ILRS "Working Groups" (Analysis, Networks and Engineering, Data Formats and Procedures, Missions, and Transponders) will now be called "Standing Committees". Over time, high-level documentation and web material will be changed to reflect the new terminology, as must all new material being produced within the ILRS.

SGP logoSatellite Laser Ranging Research Geophysicist Position at NASA/GSFCRelease Date: 01/13/2016 The Sciences & Exploration Directorate, Solar System Exploration Division, Laser Remote Sensing Laboratory (Code 694) at NASA Goddard Space Flight Center is seeking a research scientist to provide expertise in space geodesy and Satellite Laser Ranging (SLR) system development and operations. As a Research Geophysicist, the successful candidate will be responsible for conducting, managing, planning, and directing the research and development of NASA’s next generation SLR stations. Conceives and conducts instrument and systems development to increase fundamental knowledge and understanding of space geodesy via SLR. Serve as a technical leader for the implementation of new NASA SLR stations as part of the NASA Space Geodesy Network (NSGN), and ensure the operational NSGN produces the data required by NASA missions and the scientific community. Identify problems and requirements for making geodetic SLR observations to best achieve an improved understanding of Earth dynamic processes, and initiating new experiments and programs to address these problems. Responsible for the development of new and novel applications of the SLR technique. Participate in the writing and publication of significant scientific and technological findings in appropriate journals and other media. Give presentations at scientific and technical meetings, both nationally and internationally. Responsible for defining, articulating, advancing, and publicizing NASA's role in the worldwide SLR community and participating in the direction of international organizations using SLR results and supporting SLR activities. This includes leading and supporting activities of the International Satellite Laser Ranging Service (ILRS). Work closely with NASA and NASA partner mission owners to develop SLR related requirements on the mission, associated retroreflectors, and the operational SLR network to meet the mission's science requirements. Applicants should have experience in instrument design, research and development of precision laser ranging and related optical measurement systems (such as SLR, LIDAR, and laser interferometers) and their application to space geodesy, geoscience, and/or Earth observations. Further information about NASA’s Space Geodesy Project can be found at: http://space-geodesy.nasa.gov.

U.S. citizenship is required. To view the full vacancy announcement, which contains further information including qualification requirements and application instructions, go to (http://www.usajobs.gov/GetJob/ViewDetails/426383000). Applications must be received by February 29, 2016 via the USAJobs website. For additional questions, please contact Dr. Stephen M. Merkowitz at stephen.m.merkowitz@nasa.gov.

NASA GSFC is an Equal Opportunity Employer.

ILRS logoChanges in NORAD and COSPAR IDs for COMPASS satellitesRelease Date: 01/06/2016 The COSPAR and NORAD numbers in the CPF files for Compass-MS1 and Compass-MS2 were incorrect (they did not correspond to the TLE data); the numbers were switched by the prediction provider starting with CPF 5041 (dated January 05, 2016) and now correspond to the TLE data. The SIC numbers did NOT change. The ILRS website has been updated as well.

  • Compass-MS1: NORAD ID=40749/COSPAR ID=1503702/SIC=2007
  • Compass-MS2: NORAD ID=40748/COSPAR ID=1503701/SIC=2008

Data archived before the change will be replaced at the data centers shortly.

2015

NASA logoBrief network outages at GSFC on December 19, 2015Release Date: 12/11/2015 Work will be performed on the NASA GSFC network infrastructure from 03:00 p.m. (20:00 UTC), Saturday, December 19, 2015 through 03:00 a.m. (08:00 UTC) on Sunday, December 20. Users can expect 10-15 minute interruptions during that time period.

Should the CDDIS be unaccessible, users can access one of the other data centers supporting the services:

We regret any problems this work may cause the user community.

document cover imageNew "Site Requirements for GGOS Core Sites" document releasedRelease Date: 12/02/2015 Version 2 of the document Site Requirements for GGOS Core Sites has been issued.

2015 ILRS Technical Workshop logoILRS Resolutions from the 2015 Technical WorkshopRelease Date: 11/18/2015 The 2015 ILRS Technical Workshop was held in Matera Italy, October 24 through 30. The theme of the workshop was "Network Performance and Future Expectations for ILRS Support of GNSS (Global Navigation Satellite Systems), Time Transfer, and Space Debris Tracking." Representatives from various global GNSS, such as the U.S. GPS, Russia's GLONASS, Europe's Galileo, and China's Beidou, presented their requirements for and satisfaction with the ILRS network's laser ranging support of their systems. The ILRS will use this information to better set satellite tracking priorities and develop tracking strategies. Several presentations reviewed capabilities established at select ILRS stations for using laser ranging to track and model space debris, where testing capabilities ranging to decommissioned satellites with retroreflector arrays is underway. The last main session reviewed ways the ILRS can monitor data quality through characterizing biases (timing, range, etc.) in laser systems that have adverse effects on the data analysis products. The week included a tour of the nearby Matera Space Geodesy Center, which is home to an SLR system, VLBI antenna, GNSS receiver, and gravimeter; the station also provides downlink and data processing capabilities for Europe's Copernicus program. Several resolutions were put forward at the conclusion of a very successful week of presentations, discussion, and splinter meetings. A website with links to abstracts, presentations, posters, and papers will be available soon.

ILRS logo2015 ILRS Pass Performance Standard releasedRelease Date: 11/17/2015 At its meeting during the 2015 ILRS Technical Workshop in Matera Italy, the ILRS Governing Board agreed to modify the ILRS Pass Performance Standard, which reflects our evolving technologies, improved procedures, increased ranging experience, and increased number of targets and users.

ILRS logo2015 Leap second report releasedRelease Date: 10/08/2015 A report from a survey of the ILRS stations' experiences during the 2015 leap second event has been published.

Photo of Michael PearlmanMichael Pearlman awarded the 2014 Golden Medal of MeritRelease Date: 08/28/2015 In April 2015, Michael Pearlman, Director of the ILRS Central Bureau, was awarded the 2014 Golden Medal of Merit by the Scientific Board of the Institute of Applied Astronomy of the Russian Academy of Sciences in recognition of his achievements and contributions in laser ranging and international scientific programs. The citation for the award read: "For outstanding contribution to the development of space geodesy and for promoting the IAA RAS role in creation and enhancement of GGOS." Mike visited the Institute of Applied Astronomy in Saint Petersburg in April and accepted the award during a ceremony in conjunction with the 6th All-Russian Meeting "Fundamental and Applied Positioning, Navigation and Timing" (PNT-2015). Mike also participated in the conference and gave a talk titled, "The Global Geodetic Observing System (GGOS) and the Important Role played by the Institute of Applied Astronomy, ROSCOSMOS, and other Russian Participants."

Earth with Satellites orbiting around itThird GNSS Tracking CampaignRelease Date: 08/05/2015 The third SLR GNSS Tracking Campaign will run from August 10 through October 16 (10 weeks). The focus will be on the following GNSS satellites:

  • GLONASS-123, -125, -128, -129, -133, and -134
  • Compass-M3
  • Galileo-101, -102, -103, and -104

The revised priority list reflecting these changes for the third campaign is now available on the ILRS website at: http://ilrs.gsfc.nasa.gov/missions/mission_operations/priorities/index.html. The results from this campaign will be a topic of discussion at the upcoming ILRS Technical Workshop to be held October 26 - 30 in Matera (http://geodaf.mt.asi.it/2015_ILRS_TW/index.html).

Goals and instructions

Earth with Satellites orbiting around itResults from Second GNSS Tracking CampaignRelease Date: 07/31/2015 The second GNSS Tracking Campaign was held November 28, 2014 through February 28, 2015.

Justine Woo from Excelis has compiled a broad range of information on the campaign. To keep the document at a manageable size, it focuses on the 14 most productive sites in this campaign: Yarragadee, Mt. Stromlo, Changchun, Altay, Komsomolsk, Shanghai, Graz, Herstmonceux, Matera, Monument Peak, Zelenchukskaya, GSFC, Arkhyz, and Wettzell. The report can be accessed on the activities link in the LARGE Study Group section of the ILRS website at: http://ilrs.gsfc.nasa.gov/docs/2015/GNSScampaign2_statisticreport_20150630.pdf.

Even though the results are for only 14 stations, they should be of interest to all of the sites. This document was created with the intent of assessing the success of the campaign and planning our path forward in addressing our user requirements. It is rather extensive, but take a look and see what some of the stations were able to do.

Mark Torrence has also provided additional charts on the time distribution of data over the day (24 hours) for the same period. We selected the GLONASS satellites GLONASS-123, -125, -129, -130, -131, and -132 from the campaign as an example. Performance on Galileo and Compass-M was similar. This report is also available on the ILRS website at: http://ilrs.gsfc.nasa.gov/docs/2015/GNSScampaign2_localtimereport_20150730.pdf.

Conclusions from the campaign:

  • We need more sectors covered for the 6 higher priority GLONASS satellites and Galileo and M class Compass satellites. It is more important to get 2 and 3 sectors of data in the higher priority GLONASS satellites than to track the lower priority GLONASS satellites.
  • We need more data in daylight, or at least around sunrise and sunset.
Explanation on Justine's report; the volume is still extensive, but let me call your attention to the following:
  • Figures 1-3: Number of normal points, pass sectors, and passed by station for each of the constellations and how often they got 1, 2 and 3 sectors in a pass. This distribution is very important. We recognize that some stations have the advantage of good weather and several shifts of operation.
  • Figures 4-7: Number of Sectors (Beginning, Middle, End of the pass) that data was taken for each station and on each constellation. Some stations were able to achieve 2 and 3 sector coverage during some passes.
  • Figures 8-21: Mean and maximum number of normal points per satellites per pass. We can see that some stations have higher priorities for some satellites.
  • Figures 22-35: Show pie charts showing the percentage of the passes tracked that included one, two, and three segments by constellation, and the distribution of the these segments with in the passes (B - beginning, M - middle, E - end). Again, some stations were able to track 2 and 3 segments in some passes. The charts also show that some stations are tracking with their own tracking preferences.
  • Figures 36-63: Show a sample in time of the satellites tracked by each stations.
  • Figures 64-67: Show tracking campaign - GNSS satellites vs non-campaign-GNSS satellites.

LARES satelliteFirst quantum data communication performed to an Earth-orbiting satellite (Lares)Release Date: 07/28/2015 For the first time, a quantum data communication was performed to an Earth-orbiting satellite (at 1,700 km). The experiment, published in the journal Physical Review Letters was a collaboration between the Center of Space Geodesy of the Italian Space Agency (ASI) and University of Padova.

Data were 'bundled' into light particles and sent from the ASI station in Matera up to the Lares satellite, launched by ASI in 2012, whose surface is covered with retroreflectors. Once caught by the light beam, the mirrors reflected the signal back to the Matera station. It "a decisive step" that approaches quantum communications, a mode that is impossible to intercept, since interception automatically destroy them.

Quantum communication of the letter "E" over a distance of 1,700 km was a first said ASI president, Roberto Battiston. Quantum communication over land has been attempted, but over distances ten times shorter.

Authors of the jPR Letters are Paolo Villoresi, University of Padova, and Giuseppe Bianco, of the Centre for Geodesy ASI Matera. The Matera station, noted Battiston, is one of the fundamental global benchmarks in the international space geodesy network that provides precise measurements of the position of the moon and satellites with pinpoint accuracy. Battiston said that this is a great achievement that puts Italy at the forefront in a sector with important science and industrial applications.

CDDIS logoCDDIS Earthdata webinarRelease Date: 07/22/2015 The CDDIS held an Earthdata webinar titled, "Distributing Real-Time GNSS Data and Derived Products at the CDDIS". This webinar provides an overview of the Global Navigation Satellite System (GNSS), the International GNSS Service (IGS), Real-time GNSS, the CDDIS real-time data caster and protocol, the registration process before accessing the real-time data, and several demonstrations on configuring and using the client software.

Russian Academy of Sciences LogoThe passing of Suriya Kerimovna TatevianRelease Date: 07/20/2015 Author: INASAN Administration Staff

The Institute of Astronomy regrets to announce that Suriya Kerimovna Tatevian, Doctor of Technical Sciences and a leading researcher at the Institute of Astronomy of the Russian Academy of Sciences (RAS), died suddenly on July 16, 2015; she was 79 years old.

Suriya was known as an expert in the field of space geodesy and space geodynamics. In 1962, two years after the end of her studies at MIIGAiK, Suriya started working at the Astronomical Council of the USSR, which was later transformed into the Institute of Astronomy. She progressed from a research assistant to the head of the department. For more than half a century, Suriya devoted all her strength, talent and energy to the establishment and development of a new scientific direction in the field of space geodesy and geodynamics. Suriya made significant contributions to the organization of high-precision laser observations of satellites, as well as many international cooperative programs. Up until her passing, Suriya Tatevyan continued scientific and organizational activities with her continued passion and enthusiasm.

Employees of the Institute of Astronomy mourn the loss of their colleague and express their condolences to the families and friends of Suriya Kerimovna Tatevian.

ILRS logoILRS Technical Workshop (26-30 October 2015, Matera, Italy) Abstract SubmissionRelease Date: 07/20/2015 Author: Cinzia Luceri/Giuseppe Bianco

At the next ILRS Technical Workshop (26-30 October 2015, Matera, Italy) session chairs will designate key people to present position papers to introduce topics and set the scene for discussion. Abstracts for these position papers must be submitted through the abstract submission process. Other abstracts may be submitted for oral and poster presentations. Oral presentations must be relevant to a particular session and address some of the key questions identified in the session description. Oral presentations will go through an approval process by session chairs so they can plan an orderly program including sufficient time for discussion. Presentations should be short and informative. All presentations not accepted for oral talks may be given as posters. We view posters as a very important part of the meeting; they provide one-on-one opportunity for discussion on key features of the papers. Participants are welcome to submit abstracts for any or all sessions.

We need broad participation in the session discussions. In addition to the scheduled talks, participants are encouraged to bring one or two charts to stress or support particular points and issues in the discussion. Look carefully at the questions listed for each session. These charts will be uploaded before each session but do not require a submitted abstract. The Session Chairs will coordinate this activity. All charts will be included in the workshop proceedings.

The opportunity to submit abstracts is now open, deadline September 30th, 2015.
Please, use the conference website
http://geodaf.mt.asi.it/2015_ILRS_TW/itwl_abstract.htm

Quasarville imageNASA Explains Why June 30 Will Get Extra SecondRelease Date: 06/26/2015 The day will officially be a bit longer than usual on Tuesday, June 30, 2015, because an extra second, or "leap" second, will be added.

"Earth's rotation is gradually slowing down a bit, so leap seconds are a way to account for that," said Daniel MacMillan of NASA’s Goddard Space Flight Center in Greenbelt, Maryland.

Strictly speaking, a day lasts 86,400 seconds. That is the case, according to the time standard that people use in their daily lives – Coordinated Universal Time, or UTC. UTC is "atomic time" – the duration of one second is based on extremely predictable electromagnetic transitions in atoms of cesium. These transitions are so reliable that the cesium clock is accurate to one second in 1,400,000 years.

However, the mean solar day – the average length of a day, based on how long it takes Earth to rotate – is about 86,400.002 seconds long. That's because Earth's rotation is gradually slowing down a bit, due to a kind of braking force caused by the gravitational tug of war between Earth, the moon and the sun. Scientists estimate that the mean solar day hasn't been 86,400 seconds long since the year 1820 or so.

This difference of 2 milliseconds, or two thousandths of a second – far less than the blink of an eye – hardly seems noticeable at first. But if this small discrepancy were repeated every day for an entire year, it would add up to almost a second. In reality, that's not quite what happens. Although Earth's rotation is slowing down on average, the length of each individual day varies in an unpredictable way.

Read more...

photo of Bob SchutzThe passing of Dr. Bob SchutzRelease Date: 06/11/2015We are sad to announce that our colleague and friend, Dr. Bob Schutz, University of Texas at Austin/Center for Space Research (CSR) passed away on June 7, 2015, surrounded by family.

Bob was a member of the faculty at the University of Texas since 1969. His research interests included space geodesy and its applications, space geodetic instrumentation, precise orbit determination, orbital mechanics, mission planning and computational techniques. He was the science team leader for NASA's Geoscience Laser Altimeter System (GLAS), an instrument used to measure topography, especially the changes in Antarctic and Greenland ice sheets, that operated on the Ice, Cloud, and land Elevation Satellite (ICESat) in Earth's orbit for seven years.

Bob was recently elected a member of the National Academy of Engineering (NAE), and he was a fellow of the American Institute of Aeronautics and Astronautics, the American Geophysical Union, and the American Astronautical Society. Most recently, he held the Joe J. King Chair in Engineering and the FSX Professorship in Space Applications and Exploration at the University of Texas at Austin. Bob was also a special friend of the IAG Services, participating in many activities over the years and giving advice both in the early days and through recent years. His IAG contributions including being a co-founder of the International Laser Ranging Service (ILRS), and being closely involved in the IGS (International GPS Service, now the International GNSS Service) since its inception in the early 1990s, serving most recently on the ILRS Governing Board.

Bob was a cherished colleague, a Ph.d advisor, mentor and a fine gentleman. His legacy will be appreciated for many years to come. We wish to pass on our condolences to Bob’s family, friends, and colleagues around the world. We will truly miss him.

ILRS logoLeap second to be introduced into UTC on June 30, 2015Release Date: 06/04/2015UTC must be adjusted to maintain its correlation to mean solar time due to irregularities in the Earth's rotation. Therefore, a leap second will be introduced into UTC on June 30, 2015 at 23:59:59 UTC. More information about the leap second and preparing for it is available from the following websites:

NASA logoNASA network connectivity outageRelease Date: 04/22/2015 Starting this Sunday, April 26, there will be a scheduled outage for NASA network connectivity, from April 26 17:00 UTC through April 27 05:00 UTC. We have been told that the NASA network will be unavailable during the first four hours; intermittent outages of several minutes can be expected after that time until the end of the period specified above. During the outage, the ILRS, CDDIS, and Space Geodesy Project websites will not be accessible.

While the CDDIS is unavailable, users can access one of the other data centers supporting the services:

IGS: http://igs.org/about/data-centers
IGS RTS: http://igs.org/rts/access
ILRS: http://ilrs.gsfc.nasa.gov/data_and_products/data_centers/index.html (consult prior to outage)
IVS: http://ivscc.gsfc.nasa.gov/about/org/components/dc-list.html
IDS: http://ids-doris.org/data-products/info.html

We regret any problems this outage may cause the user community.

Stylized image of the Sun2015 is the International Year of LightRelease Date: 04/10/2015 The International Year of Light, a UN initiative to raise public awareness of the importance of photonics on everyday life, was officially launched at a ceremony at UNESCO in Paris on January 19. Photonics is the science and technology of generating, controlling and detecting photons, or light particles. The Year is endorsed by the International Council for Science (ICSU) and the International Social Science Council (ISSC), as well as by a number of scientific unions.

Read more...

2014

holiday greetingsHoliday Greetings from the ILRSRelease Date: 12/18/2014Author: Carey Noll/ILRS CB

The Governing Board and the Central Bureau of the International Laser Ranging Service would like to extend thanks to you for your participation in service activities during 2014.

The ILRS has once again experienced a busy year, with the launch of new missions requiring laser ranging support, new products under development (not to mention all the effort involved in generating the ILRS contribution to the next ITRF computation), stations undergoing upgrade and improvement, sponsoring the very successful 19th International Workshop on Laser Ranging in Annapolis, and new challenges and opportunities opening up for our community through the various international activities and GGOS. We thank you for your continued support of the ILRS and its mission.

We would like to send our warmest wishes for a wonderful holiday season to all of our ILRS colleagues, staff members, and their families. Best wishes for a healthy and happy New Year.

We look forward to even more successes in 2015!

Pippo Bianco, Mike Pearlman, and Carey Noll

Spinsat satelliteSpinSat added to mission priorities listRelease Date: 12/12/2014SpinSat has been added to mission priorities list.

ILRS logoGlobal report cards now generated monthlyRelease Date: 12/11/2014The quarterly global report cards are now generated monthly.

A speed bump in space-timeEarthdata Article Featuring CDDIS Data PublishedRelease Date: 12/04/2014Like many physicists today, Rafael Lang at Purdue University is on the hunt. As in a treasure hunt, the odds of finding the treasure may be slim, but the rewards are huge and the lure of the hunt irresistible. Lang said, "If we were to find something, it would be super, super exciting, another puzzle piece to open this new world."

Read more...

galileo satelliteGalileo-201 satellite in stable Earth-pointing altitudeRelease Date: 12/02/2014ESA has informed the ILRS that the Galileo-201 satellite has undergone a series of maneuvers to place it into a stable Earth-pointing altitude and is now transmitting. The mission is now supplying predictions and the satellite has been added to the ILRS priority list.

ILRW19 logo19th International Laser Ranging Workshop at GSFC was a great successRelease Date: 11/18/2014The 19th International Laser Ranging Workshop was hosted by NASA GSFC from October 27-31, 2014 in Annapolis, Maryland. October 31 marks the 50th anniversary of the first successful Satellite Laser Ranging (SLR) measurement which occurred at the Goddard Geophysical and Astronomical Observatory (GGAO) in 1964. The theme for this workshop, "Celebrating 50 Years of SLR: Remembering the Past and Planning for the Future" allowed the community to look back on its many accomplishments and to present plans for future advances in SLR technology and science. Sponsors for the Workshop were NASA, the Smithsonian Astrophysical Observatory (SAO), and the International Laser Ranging Service (ILRS). The Workshop was organized by Carey Noll (NASA GSFC, CDDIS DAAC Manager), Jan McGarry (NASA GSFC), Mike Pearlman (SAO) and Stephen Merkowitz (NASA GSFC) and was attended by approximately 180 participants from 25 countries.

On Monday, the history of SLR was given in a series of six invited talks by the pioneers in the field. The afternoon was devoted to invited science talks showing SLR's positive impact on various NASA and international missions.

In addition to the events in Annapolis, the participants were given a day-long tour of GSFC and GGAO, including tours of the Goddard Visitor's Center, Building 7 Integration and Testing facilities, Building 29 James Webb Space Telescope (JWST) integration and testing, and tours of the NASA next generation space geodesy systems at GGAO. A Goddard Joint Engineering and Scientific Colloquium on Wednesday featured a seminar by John Degnan, "A Celebration of Fifty Years of Satellite Laser Ranging." John's talk was introduced with a few words from GSFC Center Director, Chris Scolese.

A new format for a station operations session was introduced at this workshop where ILRS experts met in small groups of station engineers and operators to provide solutions to common station problems, information to maintain station stability, and guidelines for interacting with the analysts in determining station biases. These station clinics were well attended and received by workshop attendees.

A highlight of the Workshop was a speech and question and answer session at Thursday evening's banquet given by Dr. Piers Sellers, GSFC Deputy Director of the Sciences and Exploration Directorate and NASA astronaut.

There were 81 oral presentations and 70+ posters at the Workshop. The Goddard participants were authors or co-authors of over 30 of these, with many highlighting the new Space Geodesy Satellite Laser Ranging (SGSLR) Systems and the Next Generation Space Geodesy Network. SGSLR and the Space Geodesy Network will be built by Space Geodesy Project at Goddard for global deployment over the coming decade.

This workshop in Annapolis and GSFC proved to be a very successful gathering of international experts in the field of satellite laser ranging. The workshop website (http://cddis.gsfc.nasa.gov/lw19) will soon be updated with presentations, posters, summaries, and photos from the week.

ILRS logoNew Associate Analysis CenterRelease Date: 11/18/2014The Istituto Naz. di Fisica Nucleare - Laboratori Naz. di Frascati (Italy) has been approved as ILRS Associate Analysis Center (AAC)

IRNSSIRNSS-1CRelease Date: 11/17/2014IRNSS-1C has been added to the missions priorities list.

ILRS logoNew Associate Analysis CentersRelease Date: 09/27/2014The Institute for Space Astrophysics and Planetology (IAPS)/National Institute for Astrophysics (INAF) and the Korea Astronomy and Space Science Institute (KASI) South Korea have been approved as ILRS Associate Analysis Centers (AACs)

Site Log Viewer logoSite Log Viewer availableRelease Date: 09/17/2014The Site Log Viewer is now available. Browse site log files for one site or across sites.

NGSLR Celebrating 50 Years of Satellite Laser Ranging at NASA Goddard Space Flight CenterRelease Date: 08/28/2014In a field near Goddard 50 years ago this October, the first successful Satellite Laser Ranging (SLR) measurements were taken, ushering in a new era in the science of measuring the Earth.

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Brasilia station New ILRS tracking station at Brasilia, Brazil Release Date: 08/26/2014Data from new ILRS tracking station at Brasilia, Brazil (IERS DOMES Number: 48081S001; CDDIS SOD Number: 74072701), recently estabilished by the Russian space agency, has been validated by the ILRS Analysis Working Group.

workshop logo ITRF2013Release Date: 08/25/2014The ILRS Analysis Working Group (AWG) is finishing its contribution to the development of the next realization of the International Terrestrial Reference Frame (ITRF2013). Preliminary solution has been delivered to the IERS -- and final solution will be delivered by September.

workshop logo DE430/DE431 ephemeridesRelease Date: 08/25/2014IE, the new planetary ephemeris solution, includes 45 years of data from Lunar Laser Ranging, including six years of data to the station at Apache Point. See attached paper.

workshop logo ILRS supporting special IRNSS Tracking Campaign Release Date: 08/22/2014The ILRS is providing tracking support to the Indian Navigation Synchronous Satellites (IRNSS 1A and IRNSS 1B). Short duration campaigns are underway to seek near-simultaneous satellite laser ranging observations to help evaluate and calibrate the IRNSS orbits that are computed via other techniques. The ILRS stations that have participated in this campaign so far include: Changchun, Grasse, Graz, Herstmonceux, Matera, Yaragadee, Wettzell, and Zimmerwald.

The IRNSS satellites will provide navigation and positioning services to users in or near India, and ultimately will include a constellation of seven satellites.

workshop logo The third circular for the 19th International Workshop on Laser Ranging - Celebrating 50 years of SLR has been released.Release Date: 08/15/2014

workshop logo The second circular for the 19th International Workshop on Laser Ranging - Celebrating 50 years of SLR has been released.Release Date: 07/10/2014

workshop logo 19th International Workshop on Laser Ranging - Celebrating 50 years of SLR Release Date: 07/10/2014The National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA), along with the Smithsonian Astrophysical Observatory, and the International Laser Ranging Service (ILRS), are pleased to announce that the 19th International Workshop on Laser Ranging will be held in Annapolis Maryland during the week of October 27-31, 2014 at the Historic Inns of Annapolis.

October 31, 2014 will mark the 50th anniversary of the first successful SLR measurement, conducted at what is now the Goddard Geophysical and Astronomical Observatory (GGAO). The theme for this workshop, "Celebrating 50 Years of SLR: Remembering the Past and Planning for the Future" will allow us to look back on our many accomplishments and present plans for future advances in SLR technology and science.

Visit the workshop website for more information at:

http://ilrs.gsfc.nasa.gov/ilrw19/

18th Laser Ranging Workshop Logo Proceedings from the 18th International Workshop on Laser RangingRelease Date: 03/25/2014 A website for the proceedings from the 18th International Workshop on Laser Ranging, held November 11-15, 2013 in Fujiyoshida Japan, has been created and is now available at http://cddis.gsfc.nasa.gov/lw18/.

Because a hardcopy of the proceedings will not be published, all presentations, posters, and papers collected thus far have been made available through this website. Session summaries and ILRS splinter meeting notes are also linked on the website. The ILRS would like to acknowledge the significant, and thorough, efforts of the program committee in working with workshop participants to collect the documents that are now available through the website.

CDDIS logo New CDDIS website now availableRelease Date: 03/24/2014 The CDDIS staff is pleased to announce a new CDDIS website is now available. This redesign has allowed for a review of the organization of the site and its contents, ensuring information is current and useful. The new site also incorporates an improved navigation scheme. The website features access to applications enabling data discovery. One application, the SiteLogViewer, provides an enhanced display and comparison of the contents of ILRS and IDS site logs used by the services to document a site's system configuration; IGS and IVS site logs will be added to the utility in the near future.

Comments and suggestions are welcome and should be directed to the CDDIS support group through the "Contact Us" link. We would like to acknowledge the efforts of the website development team (Lori Tyahla, Nathan Pollack, and Carey Noll) for their contributions to the site content.

Goddard LogoRobert H. Goddard Award RecipientsRelease Date: 03/18/2014 Congratulations to the Space Geodesy Project Team for receiving the Robert H. Goddard Exceptional Achievement Group Award for Engineering. Additional congratulations goes to Jan McGarry, who received an individual Robert H. Goddard Award for Exceptional Engineering Achievement.

ILRS logo Network outage - Saturday, March 15, 2014 from 08:00 a.m. through 04:00 p.m. EDT (12:00-20:00 UTC) Release Date: 03/07/2014 We have been notified that there will be a network outage (due to work on NASA's backbone equipment) on Saturday, March 15, 2014 from 08:00 a.m. through 04:00 p.m. EDT (12:00-20:00 UTC). Unfortunately, this activity will affect CDDIS operations. All connectivity to our servers will be off-line during that time. The outage will also affect access to the CDDIS, ILRS, LRO-LR, and Space Geodesy Project websites.

While the CDDIS is unavailable, users can access one of the other data centers supporting the services:

We regret the inconvenience the outage will cause our user community.

Space Geodesy Project logoNASA Solar System Exploration Division Seminar Release Date: 01/29/2014 An SSED seminar will be held Monday, February 10 from 2 to 3 p.m. in Building 34, Room W150. The speaker, Dr. Zuheir Altamimi from IGN in France, will give a presentation entitled "The International Terrestrial Reference Frame: current status and future challenges."

ILRS logo 19th International Workshop on Laser Ranging AnnouncedRelease Date: 01/21/2014 We are pleased to announce that the 19th International Workshop on Laser Ranging will be hosted at NASA Goddard Space Flight Center, October 27-31 2014. Goddard has the unique opportunity to host this event at the birthplace of SLR: October 31, 2014 will mark the 50th anniversary of the first SLR measurement, conducted at what is now the Goddard Geophysical and Astronomical Observatory, GGAO. The theme for this workshop, "Celebrating 50 Years of SLR: Remembering the Past and Planning for the Future" will allow us to look back on our many accomplishments and present plans for future advances in the SLR technique. Furthermore, we solicit contributions from complementary space geodesy techniques and from activities that rely on the integration of SLR with other space geodesy techniques.

Please consider participation in this workshop and reserve the week to join us at NASA GSFC. More details will be provided shortly.

2013

NASA Logo NASA Earth and Space Science Fellowship (NESSF) Program Release Date: 12/23/2013 NASA announces a call for graduate fellowship proposals to the NASA Earth and Space Science Fellowship (NESSF) program for the 2014-2015 academic year. This call for fellowship proposals solicits applications from accredited U.S. universities on behalf of individuals pursuing Master of Science (M.Sc.) or Doctoral (Ph.D.) degrees in Earth and space sciences, or related disciplines. The purpose of NESSF is to ensure continued training of a highly qualified workforce in disciplines needed to achieve NASA’s scientific goals. Awards resulting from the competitive selection will be made in the form of training grants to the respective universities.

The deadline for NEW applications is February 3, 2014, and the deadline for RENEWAL applications is March 17, 2014.

The NESSF call for proposals and submission instructions are located at the NESSF 14 solicitation index page at http://nspires.nasaprs.com/ - click on "Solicitations" then click on "Open Solicitations" then select the "NESSF 14" announcement. Also refer to “Proposal Submission Instructions” and “Frequently Asked Questions” listed under “Other Documents” on the NESSF 14 solicitation index page.

All proposals must be submitted in electronic format only through the NASA NSPIRES system. The advisor has an active role in the submission of the fellowship proposal. To use the NSPIRES system, the advisor, the student, and the university must all register. Extended instructions on how to submit an electronic proposal package are posted on the NESSF 14 solicitation index page listed above. You can register in NSPIRES at http://nspires.nasaprs.com/.

For further information contact Claire Macaulay, Program Administrator for NESSF Earth Science Research, Telephone: (202) 358-0151, E-mail: claire.i.macaulay@nasa.gov or Dolores Holland, Program Administrator for NESSF Heliophysics Research, Planetary Science Research, and Astrophysics Research, Telephone: (202) 358-0734, E-mail: hq-nessf-Space@nasa.gov.

Holiday TreeHoliday Greetings from the ILRS Governing Board and Central Bureau Release Date: 12/19/2013 Author: Carey Noll/ILRS CB

The Governing Board and the Central Bureau of the International Laser Ranging Service would like to extend our sincere thanks to you for your participation in service activities during 2013.

The ILRS has had another very busy year, with the launch of new missions requiring laser ranging support, new products under development, stations undergoing upgrade and improvement, sponsoring the very successful 18th International Workshop on Laser Ranging last month in Japan, and new challenges and opportunities opening up for our community through GGOS and other international activities. We thank you for your continued support of the ILRS and its mission.

We would also like to send our best wishes for a wonderful holiday season to all of our ILRS colleagues, staff members, and their families. We wish you a healthy and happy New Year.

We look forward to continued cooperation and success in 2014!

Pippo Bianco, Mike Pearlman, and Carey Noll

Swarm satellite Swarm launch Release Date: 11/22/2013 Swarm was launched today at 12:02 UTC from Plesetsk Russia.
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ILRS logo Dr. Giuseppe Bianco elected Chair of the ILRS Governing Board Release Date: 11/15/2013 On Thursday, November 14, the newly elected ILRS Governing Board held its meeting during the 18th International Workshop on Laser Ranging in Fujiyoshida Japan. Dr. Giuseppe Bianco was elected to serve as the Chair of the ILRS Governing Board during the 2013-2015 term. Congratulations to Pippo!

APOLLO station in New Mexico, USA Lunar Laser Ranging to Lunokhod reflectors Release Date: 11/12/2013 A recent paper by V. Nasennik questions the degradation of performance of LLR returns from the Lunokhod reflectors. Tom Murphy/UCSD, using data from the APOLLO lunar laser ranging station, addresses Nasennik's results in his analysis.

ILRS logo ILRS Governing Board Election Results Release Date: 11/12/2013 The ILRS Central Bureau recently completed election of the ILRS Governing Board for the 2013-2015 term. The new board is:

Ex-Officio Members:
Michael Pearlman (Director, Central Bureau)
Carey Noll (Secretary, Central Bureau)
Tonie Van Dam (President of IAG Commission 1)

Appointed Members:
Bob Schutz (IERS representative to ILRS)
Giuseppe Bianco (Eurolas Network Rep., Chair)
Georg Kirchner (Eurolas Network Rep.)
Wu Bin (WPLTN Network Rep.)
Toshi Otsubo (WPLTN Network Rep.)
David McCormick (NASA Network Rep.)
Jan McGarry (NASA Network Rep.)

Elected Members:
Vincenzia Luceri (Analysis Center Rep.)
Erricos Pavlis (Analysis Center Rep.)
Horst Mueller (Data Center Rep.)
Juergen Mueller (LLR Rep.)
Matt Wilkinson (At Large Rep.)
Ulrich Schreiber (At Large Rep.)

Giuseppe Bianco was elected as chair at the Board meeting on November 14, 2013.

GOCE satellite GOCE re-enters the Earth's atmosphere Release Date: 11/11/2013 On November 11, 2013 ESA's GOCE satellite reentered Earth's atmosphere, disintegrating in the upper atmosphere. The satellite was launched in March 2009 to map variations in the Earth's gravity field. More information on the mission's end can be found on ESA's website: http://www.esa.int/Our_Activities/Observing_the_Earth/GOCE/GOCE_gives_in_to_gravity.

ILRS logo Changes to System Configuration Documentation Release Date: 10/28/2013 Over the last year, the ILRS CB has developed new procedures for tracking changes to the ILRS ranging stations. It has approved the use of the station change history log which replaces both the SCH and SCI files. Detailed documentation on the new procedures can be found on the ILRS web site at: http://ilrs.gsfc.nasa.gov/network/site_procedures/configuration_files.html

LAGEOS 1 and 2 passes from October 1, 2012 through September 30, 2013Release Date: 10/25/2013 The 2013 3rd quarter global report card has been published.

Link to full articleNASA and US Air Force reach agreement Release Date: 09/06/2013 An agreement was reached between NASA and the US Air Force concerning the hosting of NASA supplied laser retroreflector arrays onto future GPS satellites. This agreement gives NASA the formal approval to move forward with the GPS Laser Retroreflector Array (GPS-LRA) Project that will supply the retroreflectors for the GPS-III satellites starting with SV-9.

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small world map depicting network station locationsRelease Date: 07/30/2013 The ILRS Central Bureau has developed an application for the enhanced display and comparison of the contents of the ILRS site logs. Users should select either to view a complete site log or view one section for multiple site logs. The Site Log Viewer is accessible at: http://ilrs.gsfc.nasa.gov/SiteLogViewer/. Comments should be directed to the ILRS web team (ilrs-web@lists.nasa.gov).

18th International Workshop on Laser Ranging Logo The second announcement of the next International Workshop on Laser Ranging has been issued.Release Date: 07/19/2013 Registration and abstract submission for the 18th International Workshop on Laser Ranging are now open. Participants are all requested to fill out these forms by 20 September. The overall schedule in the workshop week, including the opening lectures on Monday morning by Dr J J Degnan and Dr M Fujita, can be found on the workshop website.

Note that the number of hotel rooms, especially single rooms at the reduced price, are limited at the venue (Highland Resort Hotel). Early registration is strongly recommended. Participants who need a visa for the trip to Japan also have to complete the registration form as soon as possible, by clearly stating it in the "Special Request" textbox.

Authors are requested to complete the abstract submission form per presentation. Submitters must choose the preferred presentation style (oral or poster), and one of the following six themes closest to the presentation.

Science Products - Earth/Lunar/Planetary Science, Geodesy, Altimetry, IERS, Gravity, Refraction

SLR Technologies - kHz ranging, Two-color ranging, System Software Development, Timing Devices, Adaptive Optics, Detectors, Telescopes

Operation Aspects - New SLR Stations, Activities of SLR Stations, Calibration, Local Tie, Network, Automation, Operating Software, Safety

Space Mission - Satellite Projects, Reflector and Reflector Array, Satellite Orientation, Future Plans

Synergy - Time Transfer, Optical Communications, Space Debris, Multi-technique Combination and GGOS, Various Applications

Miscellaneous - New Challenges, Embryonic Research Topics, Education and Outreach

After gathering the submitted abstracts, the Program Committee intends to re-organize them into actual 10-15 sessions.

LAGEOS 1 and 2 passes from July 1, 2012 through June 30, 2013Release Date: 07/19/2013 The 2013 2nd quarter global report card has been published.

California's Chariot Fire affects Monument Peak operationsRelease Date: 07/15/2013 The Chariot Fire in southern California has required the shutdown of operations at NASA's MOBLAS-4 SLR station in Monument Peak. The crew safely evacuated on Monday July 8th and returned July 12th. The station has safely returned to operations. The fire reached within a mile of the station. (Photo courtesy of wildfiretoday.com)

Read more

IRNSS-1A satelliteThe first satellite, IRNSS-1A, of the Indian Regional Navigation Satellite System (IRNSS) successfully launchedRelease Date: 07/02/2013 The first satellite, IRNSS-1A, of the Indian Regional Navigation Satellite System (IRNSS) was successfully launched on July 1, 2013 at 18:13 UTC from the spaceport of Sriharikota. The IRNSS-1A satellite is the first of seven satellites that will make up the IRNSS.

Jason satelliteJason-1 mission endsRelease Date: 07/01/2013 On June 21, 2013 contact with the Jason-1 spacecraft was lost. Although the satellite appeared to still be flying in a normal nadir pointing attitude, no communication could be established with the spacecraft. The spacecraft engineers and control teams at CNES and JPL believe that a failure occurred in the telecommunications system of the spacecraft. Since the spacecraft was already operating on the second telecommunications channel after a previous anomaly, there is no remaining redundancy. All efforts to reboot and communicate with the spacecraft have been unsuccessful. Therefore, the mission was declared ended on July 1, 2013 after 11.5 years in operation.

IERS LogoPresentations from the second IERS workshopRelease Date: 06/25/2013 Presentations from the second IERS workshop on local ties, tie vectors, co-location sites and their use in the combination of space geodetic solutions held on May 21 – 22 at University Paris-Diderot are now available at http://iersworkshop2013.ign.fr/?page=program

Envisat satellite ILRS to track Envisat to help improve the quality of the orbitRelease Date: 05/30/2013 ESA has asked the ILRS to track Envisat to help improve the quality of the orbit and better predict the satellite trajectory and tumbling motion. Any SLR data acquired by the ILRS network will help improve the orbit.

NASA's Space Geodesy Project Logo Space Geodesy SLR Request for Information ReleasedRelease Date: 05/02/2013 The National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA) Space Geodesy Project (SGP) is soliciting information to improve its understanding of the interest, capabilities, and Rough Order of Magnitude (ROM) estimates for planning the construction, deployment, and operation of the next generation Space Geodesy (SG) Satellite Laser Ranging (SLR) Stations that will be part of a new NASA’s Space Geodetic Network (SGN). NASA is considering the construction of up to ten new SLR stations that will contribute to the larger Global Geodetic Observing System (GGOS).

Read more

18th International Workshop on Laser Ranging Logo The first announcement of the next International Workshop on Laser Ranging has been issued.Release Date: 04/23/2013 The 18th International Workshop on Laser Ranging is organized so that worldwide scientists and engineers in this and related fields can exchange their views, share opinions on the on-going problems, and navigate the future.

The theme of this year's workshop is "Pursuing Ultimate Accuracy & Creating New Synergies." In addition to the important topic of maximizing accuracy, this workshop is intended to enhance the potential of laser ranging with the inclusion of activities in relevant fields.

The workshop will take place November 11-15, 2013 at the Highland Resort Hotel, Fujiyoshida, Japan. More information is available on the workshop website: http://geo.science.hit-u.ac.jp/lw18/.

Please consider your participation and reserve the week now. The procedures for the registration (including hotel booking) and the abstract submission will be announced in July. Please contact the local organizing committee (Z-LW18@jaxa.jp) for additional information.

graph of LAGEOS 1 and 2 passes for the 1st quarter of 2013 Release Date: 04/15/2013 The 2013 1st quarter report card has been published.

The Russian BLITS nanosatellite BLITS satellite tracking endsRelease Date: 04/19/2013 BLITS mission contacts from the Scientific Research Institute for Precision Instrument Engineering in Moscow have asked the ILRS to end tracking on the satellite. They believe the satellite collided with a small, uncatalogued fragment of space debris. They are planning to report on the satellite and event at the 18th International Workshop on Laser Ranging in November 2013 in Japan. The mission scientists would like to thank the ILRS stations for their active support of BLITS laser ranging. (N. Parkhomenko/Scientific Research Institute for Precision Instrument Engineering)

Mark Davis The Passing of Our Friend, Mark DavisRelease Date: 04/19/2013 It is with great sorrow that we inform the ILRS community about the passing of our colleague, Mark Davis, on April 13, 2013.

For the past 15 months, Mark fought valiantly against pancreatic cancer. Mark had 18 rounds of chemotherapy in total, surprising even his doctors, as he battled with this very aggressive form of cancer. Mark, true to his nature, remained positive and determined throughout his entire ordeal. He never lost his disarming smile, wit, and desire to help so many in the SLR community.

Mark’s accomplishments to the SLR community are too numerous to name, but he touched every aspect of the technique from the hardware and software of the ground stations, to the survey methods, to the retroreflectors, to the SLR data orbital analysis and beyond for both the NASA and NRL programs. He also lead and supported many other projects during his 21 years as part of our SLR family. He will be greatly missed by his friends and colleagues.

MéO station (GRSM) in Calern, France Grasse station tracks Lunokhod-1 retroreflector Release Date: 04/05/2013 On Tuesday night (2013.03.19T19:27), the LLR team of the MéO station (GRSM) in Calern, France, obtained a return signal from the Lunokhod-1 (Luna-17) reflector for the first time since the start of lunar laser ranging observations in the early 1980s. During three nights, before the reflector entered in the light, 214 echoes in 11 normal points were obtained. These results were obtained using the new instrumental configuration of the MéO station including a semiconductor mode locked Nd:YAG laser and a direct drive motorization. The relatively bad weather conditions didn't allow us to have a good determination of the efficiency of the Lunokhod-1 reflector, but the results seem in agreement with results presented by Tom Murphy in 2010. Using the MéO data, our colleagues from the Paris Observatory, modifying the rectangular coordinates of Lunokhod-1, aligned the MéO data with the APOLLO data, and along the way, reduced the dispersion of APOLLO data. Continuous ranging will be done on this reflector by the MéO station. The position on the Moon, the efficiency, and the accuracy should be taken into account to increase its priority into the ILRS Lunar Tracking Priorities table.

The NERC Space Geodesy Facility (NSGF) The NSGF is now providing a daily satellite prediction comparison serviceRelease Date: 04/03/2013 The NERC Space Geodesy Facility (NSGF) is now providing a daily satellite prediction comparison service at http://sgf.rgo.ac.uk/qualityc/cpf_qc.html. The group has also updated the dynamic satellite priority service (http://sgf.rgo.ac.uk/operations/dynamicpriority.html).

International Council for Science (ICSU) World Data System (WDS) Logo The ILRS has been accepted as a network member of the International Council for Science (ICSU) World Data System (WDS). Release Date: 04/02/2013 The ILRS has recently been accepted as a network member of the International Council for Science (ICSU) World Data System (WDS). The WDS strives to enable open and long-term access to multidisciplinary scientific data, data services, products and information. The WDS works to ensure long-term stewardship of data and data services to a global scientific user community. The ILRS is a network member of the WDS, representing its two data centers and coordinating their activities within the WDS.

STPSat-2 satellite The ILRS Governing Board approves tracking of the STPSat-2 mission Release Date: 04/01/2013 The ILRS Governing Board has approved the tracking of the U.S. Air Force Research Laboratory (AFRL) STPSat-2 mission to study hollow retroreflector technology.

ILRS network mapITRF2013 Call for Participation Release Date: 03/28/2013 Please be informed that the ITRF2013 Call for Participation is now released and could be retrieved at the ITRF web site, using the following link:

http://itrf.ign.fr/ITRF_solutions/2013/CFP-ITRF2013-27-03-2013.pdf

In addition to the solicited global solutions from the four space geodesy techniques (to be provided by the Technique Services), we also solicit and encourage the owners of co-location sites to consider conducting new local tie surveys using the most up to date survey methods. Indeed, the local ties available at the ITRS Center for a certain number of co-location sites are now old by 10 to 20 years. In this respect, we would greatly appreciate the contribution of the national mapping and space agencies investing and operating co-location sites, which constitute the main foundation of the ITRF. More details regarding the local tie survey are available in the ITRF2013 CfP.

promotional image for news story Satellite Laser Ranging (SLR) and Pi Release Date: 03/14/2013 Satellite Laser Ranging (SLR) and Pi? Check out this podcast to learn how SLR is using pi to determine the effective reflective surface area of retroreflectors!

MOBLAS-4 SLR station in Monument Peak, CAMOBLAS-4 SLR station in Monument Peak, CA experiences a 4.7 magnitude earthquake Release Date: 03/12/2013 The MOBLAS-4 SLR station in Monument Peak, CA experienced a 4.7 magnitude earthquake during routine operations. The earthquake was 20 km ESE of Anza, CA and is summarized at the USGS Earthquake Hazards Program website. The event was felt at the site but no damage occurred to the SLR system.

The Russian BLITS nanosatellite The Russian BLITS nanosatellite has collided with a piece of space debris Release Date: 02/28/2013 On January 22, 2013, a collision happened between the BLITS passive laser nanosatellite and a space debris fragment. As a result, an abrupt change occurred of the BLITS orbit parameters (a decrease of the orbiting period). Besides this, as can be seen from the Altay SLR station photometrical observation results, the BLITS spin period has changed from 5.6 sec before collision to 2.1 sec after collision.

Currently, additional observations are made to determine the reasonability of continuing the BLITS observation campaign.

SARAL satellite SARAL satellite successfully launched Release Date: 02/26/2013 The SARAL satellite was successfully launched from the Satish Dhawan Spaceport in India on February 25, 2013 at 12:31 UTC. SARAL (Satellite with ARgos and ALtika) is a cooperative mission between CNES and the Indian Space Research Organization (ISRO). The mission is complemenatary to Jason-2 and will provide observations of ice, rain, coastal zones, and wave heights. SLR will play an important role by providing strong tracking information to complement DORIS and by providing a unique and unambiguous verification of the absolute radial orbit accuracy.

Cover of ILRS 2009-2010 Report International Laser Ranging Service 2009-2010 Report Available Online Release Date: 01/31/2013 The ILRS is very pleased to announce that the International Laser Ranging Service 2009-2010 Report is in final preparations for printing. Hardcopies will be shipped to all ILRS associates and correspondents in the coming weeks. In the meantime, the document is available online at:

http://ilrs.gsfc.nasa.gov/about/reports/annualrpts/ilrsreport_2009.html


two images of the Mona Lisa NASA Beams Mona Lisa to Lunar Reconnaissance Orbiter at the Moon Release Date: 01/28/2013 Laser communication and ranging experiments were successfully conducted from the satellite laser ranging (SLR) station at NASA Goddard Space Flight Center (GSFC) to the Lunar Reconnaissance Orbiter (LRO) in lunar orbit. The experiments used 4096-ary pulse position modulation (PPM) for the laser pulses during one-way LRO Laser Ranging (LR) operations. Reed-Solomon forward error correction codes were used to correct the PPM symbol errors due to atmosphere turbulence and pointing jitter. The signal fading was measured and the results were compared to the model.

Optics Express
Read the NASA news release

SWARM satellite SWARM Launch Delayed Release Date: 01/25/2013 SpaceNews reports that "the launch of the three European Space Agency (ESA) Swarm satellites designed to study the Earth's magnetic field has been delayed again, to mid-year at the earliest, due to an inquiry into the Jan. 15 malfunction of the Breeze-KM upper stage of the Rockot vehicle, the rocket's commercial service provider said Jan. 24."

23:59:60 2012 Leap Second Survey Results Release Date: 01/24/2013 As many of you are aware, the ILRS handling of the leap second on June 30/July 1, 2012 could have been smoother. The ILRS CB has been learning the magnitude of the problems and working on solutions. The result is the 2012 Leap Second Survey Results document, which outlines specific steps to make the next leap second transition smoother. Most of these involve proper implementation of the CPF leap second flag by predictions providers and stations.

We look forward of the participation of the ILRS stations, prediction providers, and analysts to make the next leap second insertion problem-free!

graph of LAGEOS 1 and 2 passes for the 4th quarter of 2012 Release Date: 01/04/2013 The 2012 4th quarter report card has been published.

2012

Group photo at the International Technical Laser Workshop 2012 Release Date: 11/20/2012 The ILRS held an International Technical Laser Workshop 2012 (ITLW-12) on "Satellite, Lunar and Planetary Laser Ranging: characterizing the space segment" at the Frascati National Laboratories of the INFN-LNF, Frascati (Rome), Italy on November 5-9, 2012, in conjunction with a one-day Workshop on "ASI-INFN ETRUSCO-2 Project of Technological Development and Test of SLR Payloads for GNSS Satellites". The meeting focused on the laser ranging space segment including retroreflector arrays for Earth orbiting satellites and the moon, with special attention to the expanding role of ranging to GNSS and geosynchronous satellites. Topics also included receivers in space for time transfer experiments (T2L2), one-way ranging to lunar orbiters (LRO) and interplanetary spacecraft (MLA, MOLA), and data relay systems.

Galileo satellite Release Date: 11/15/2012 On November 15, 2012, Galileo-103 and Galilieo-104 were added to the ILRS priority list.

graph of LAGEOS 1 and 2 passes for the 3rd quarter of 2012 Release Date: 10/23/2012 The 2012 3rd quarter report card has been published.

GLONASS satellite Release Date: 10/23/2012 On October 23, 2012 GLONASS-129 replaced GLONASS-127 in the ILRS priority list.

Galileo satellite Galileo IOV launched Release Date: 10/12/2012 The Soyuz ST-B launcher carrying the next two Galileo In-Orbit Validation satellites took off as scheduled on 18:15:00 GMT (20:15:00 CEST). Deployment of its twin satellites into orbit is scheduled for three hours 44 minutes after take-off. Read more.

ILRS logo New ILRS web site released Release Date: 10/09/2012 The ILRS Central Bureau is pleased to announce the implementation of a new design for the ILRS website, http://ilrs.gsfc.nasa.gov. The redesign process has allowed for a review of the organization of the site and its contents, ensuring information is current and useful. Comments and suggestions are welcome and should be directed to the ILRS web team at ilrs-web@lists.nasa.gov. We would like to acknowledge the efforts of the website development team (Lisa Lee, Mark Torrence, Lori Tyahla, and Carey Noll) as well as members of the Central Bureau and the ILRS community for their contributions to the site content.

GLONASS satellite Release Date: 09/24/2012 On September 24, 2012 GLONASS-127 replaced GLONASS-115 in the ILRS priority list.

INFN logo Release Date: 09/11/2012 The second circular for the next ILRS Technical Workshop "Satellite, Lunar and Planetary Laser Ranging: Characterizing the Space Segment" has been issued. The workshop will be held November 05-09, 2012 at the Frascati National Laboratories of the INFN-LNF in Frascati Italy in conjunction with a one-day Workshop on "ASI-INFN ETRUSCO-2 Project of Technological Development on SLR Payloads for GNSS". This is the first time we have dedicated a full workshop to the space segment and new concepts, new designs, and new laboratory testing capabilities give us exciting opportunities to address our evolving requirements.

ZY-3 satellite Release Date: 09/05/2012 The initial tracking campaign for ZY-3 ended on September 05, 2012. The mission will inform the ILRS of the next tracking campaign request.

Steve Klosko Release Date: 08/06/2012 On August 4, 2012, our colleague Steve Klosko passed away surrounded by family and loved ones. We will greatly miss his immense contributions to the field of satellite laser ranging, space geodesy, and other scientific research areas.

graph of LAGEOS 1 and 2 passes for the 2nd quarter of 2012 Release Date: 07/15/2012 The 2012 2nd quarter report card has been published.

COMPASS satellite Release Date: 07/05/2012 Three additional COMPASS satellites (COMPASS-M3, COMPASS-I3, and COMPASS-G1) have been approved for ILRS tracking.

INFN logo ILRS Technical Workshop Release Date: 06/12/2012 The first announcement for the next ILRS Technical Workshop "Satellite, Lunar and Planetary Laser Ranging: Characterizing the Space Segment" has been issued. The workshop will be held November 05-09, 2012 at the Frascati National Laboratories of the INFN-LNF in Frascati Italy in conjunction with a one-day Workshop on "ASI-INFN ETRUSCO-2 Project of Technological Development on SLR Payloads for GNSS". This is the first time we have dedicated a full workshop to the space segment and new concepts, new designs, and new laboratory testing capabilities give us exciting opportunities to address our evolving requirements.

WPLTN-2012 Technical Workshop logo WPLTN-2012 Technical Workshop Release Date: 05/03/2012 The first announcement for WPLTN-2012 Technical Workshop "One-way and two-way SLR for GNSS co-located with RF techniques", St. Petersburg Russia, September 24-28, 2012 has been released.

graphic depicting Earth being orbited by numerous satellites ILRS Support of GNSS Release Date: 04/24/2012 The ILRS tracking network is becoming increasingly involved in making laser range measurements to satellites of the emerging Global Navigation Satellite Systems. The very recent agreement of the Governing Board to support three new satellites of the Chinese COMPASS navigation system, a developing constellation that includes satellites in traditional 20,000 km orbits as well as in geosynchronous orbits, brings to 15 the numbers tracked. Of those 15 vehicles, six are from the Russian GLONASS system, which is now fully-populated and operational, and four are from the new EU Galileo system. In recent years, new ILRS recommendations on minimum standards for the design of retro-reflectors have led to range observations to the existing COMPASS-M1, newer GLONASS satellites and the recent two Galileo vehicles being carried out routinely by day and by night. Laser ranging to the GNSS satellites will link those satellite orbits to the geocentric reference frame that is determined from laser tracking of the dedicated geodetic satellites, and thus enable the GNSS constellations to distribute a very precise reference frame to users worldwide. Laser range observations also provide an important independent check on equivalent ranges determined from analyses of the navigational signals, and thus act as a measure of orbital quality and potential systematic effects. An ILRS technical workshop to discuss these issues is being planned for late 2012 in Frascati, Italy.

GLONASS sateliite Release Date: 03/13/2012 On March 13, 2012 GLONASS-130 replaced GLONASS-125 in the ILRS priority list.

LARES sateliite LARES Launched! Release Date: 02/13/2012 The LARES satellite was launched on February 13, 2012 aboard the maiden flight of ESA's new Vega launch vehicle. SLR tracking of the LARES satellite will achieve important measurements in gravitational physics, General Relativity, space geodesy and geodynamics, in particular, together with the LAGEOS-1 and LAGEOS-2 satellites and with the GRACE models, it will provide a very accurate determination of the Earth gravitomagnetic field and of the Lense-Thirring effect. More...

Release Date: 01/09/2012 The 4th quarter report card has been published.

2011

First Direct Measurement of the Earth's Rotation Release Date: 12/22/2011 The Technische Universitaet Muenchen (TUM) reports on the first ever direct measurement of the Earth's rotation using the world's most stable ring laser (image courtesy of TUM). Our colleague Ulli Schreiber describes the experiment in this TUM press release. More...

Galileo First Ranges Release Date: 12/15/2011 First ranges to Galileo have been achieved by the ILRS and reported by ESA. More...

Proceedings from the 17th International Laser Ranging Workshop Release Date: 12/07/2011 The Bundesamt fuer Kartographie und Geodaesie/BKG (Geodetic Observatory Wettzell and TIGO), the Research Group Satellite Geodesy of the Technische Universitaet Muenchen and the International Laser Ranging Service (ILRS) sponsored the 17th International Workshop on Laser Ranging in Bad Kötzting, Germany during the week of May 16-20, 2011. A website with links to all presentations and available papers is now available. More...

RadioAstron launch and first ranges Release Date: 11/15/2011 RadioAstron was launched on July 18, 2011; first ranges were obtained by Grasse on November 15, 2011. More...

LARES has been approved for ILRS tracking.

Older News

  • HY-2A was launched on August 16, 2011; tracking begins September 02, 2011.
  • The center of mass value for the Blits satellite has been updated:
  • The science mission of ERS-2 ended on July 04, 2011 and the satellite has begun de-orbit maneuvers. For more information on the ERS-2 retirement, mission, successes, can be found at the ESA website.
  • A website for presentations and proceedings from the 17th International Workshop on Laser Ranging in Bad Koetzing Germany is now available.
  • On May 23, 2011, the "Tsuboi Prize 2011" of the Geodetic Society of Japan was awarded to the AJISAI Development Group (JAXA, Japan Coast Guard, GSI, NICT and Hitotsubashi University). This prize was given for the satellite development of Ajisai and the 25-year-long operation and analysis. Mr Hidekazu Hashimoto, the father of Ajisai, is the leader of this group. Pictures from the award ceremony and the plaque are available. The Geodetic Society has a webpage on this prize: http://www.geod.jpn.org/english/tsuboi.html. Congratulations to the group and thank you to Toshi Otsubo for forwarding this information to the ILRS.
  • GLONASS-125 has replaced GLONASS-120 in the ILRS priority list on May 04, 2011.
  • The 1st quarter report card has been published.
  • The second PROBA-2 tracking campaign was completed on 06-Feb-2011.
  • Professor Yang Fumin, the former vice director of Shanghai Astronomical Observatory, passed away on Wednesday, February 9, 2011. Yang was a long-time contributor to the ILRS and SLR in general; he was one of the WPLTN representatives to the ILRS Governing Board. The entire SLR community will miss Yang and his many contributions to the field.

2010

  • On November 11, 2010 our colleague Wolfgang Seemueller passed away after a long illness. Wolfgang was the head of the EUROLAS Data Center (EDC) at DGFI as well as the Data Center Representative on the ILRS Governing Board. He also was also the head of the Regional Network Associate Analysis Center for SIRGAS (RNAAC-SIR). We will greatly miss Wolfgang and his contributions to the scientific community.
  • The first 3-way simultaneous laser ranging to LRO occurred Monday November 1, 2010. NGSLR, MLRS, and Monument Peak all successfully ranged to LRO during the same hour period. Simultaneous data allows more detailed comparison of the station biases, potentially permits a geometric solution of the spacecraft position, and provides a demonstration of what is possible for future planetary tracking using lasers.
  • The CHAMP satellite re-entered Earth's atmosphere on Sept. 20, 2010.
  • QZS-1 was successfully launched on September 11, 2010 at 08:17:00 p.m. (JST) from the Tanegashima Space Center.
  • ICESat re-entered the Earth's atmosphere on August 30 at 05:00 a.m. EDT.
  • JAXA has informed the ILRS that laser tracking of ETS-8 is no longer required.
  • The ANDE Castor spacecraft re-entered the Earth's atmosphere on August 18, 2010. The last radar contact was 18-Aug-2010 at 13:54 by the Cobra Dane site.
  • A GIOVE-B campaign (July 12-August 13, 2010) has been requested by ESA for orbit determination studies.
  • TanDEM-X was launched from Baikonur Russa on June 21, 2010 at 02:14 GMT.
  • STSAT-2B launch occurred on June 10, 2010 at 08:01 GMT; the satellite was lost due to a rocket failure.
  • The Pulkovo EOP and Reference Systems Analysis Center (PERSAC) has been accepted as an ILRS Associate Analysis Center.
  • The TIGO (Transportable Integrated Geodetic Observatory) SLR system, located in Concepcion Chile, is fully operational again after the devastating earthquake on February 27, 2010. The system has been continually tracking laser ranging targets since April 29 after repositioning the telescope and optical components within the laser container. The system is operated by the Bundesamt fuer Kartographie und Geodaesie (BKG) in cooperation with Chilean university partners.
  • The publication of the ILRS 2007-2008 Report has been completed. Interested parties who would like to receive a copy can contact the ILRS Central Bureau. The document is also available in PDF form from the ILRS website.
  • We have recently been notified that the numbering of the GLONASS satellites launched on March 02, 2010 was incorrectly posted on the ILRS website. This error has caused problems in prediction files, tracking, and data records. The NORAD and COSPAR IDs for GLONASS-120 and -121 were incorrect; the proper values are now available. CODE will begin providing prediction files using the correct numbering today; older data will be corrected in the next day or two and will be replaced in the archives shortly thereafter. Stations should update their station files as soon as possible with the appropriate numbers so that all new GLONASS-120 tracking data will be accounted for correctly. We regret the problems this confusion has caused.
  • GLONASS-120 replaced GLONASS-109 in the tracking list on April 06, 2010.
  • The ANDE Pollox spacecraft has re-entered the Earth's atmosphere. The last observation of the ANDE Pollux spacecraft was on 28-Mar-2010 at 22:55 from the Beale Phased Array (west coast of CONUS).
  • A PROBA-2 tracking campaign will be held 21-Mar-2010 through 03-Apr-2010.
  • The ILRS Governing Board has approved tracking of SARAL.
  • PRN35 (GPS-35) has been reactivated; the satellite has been added to the ILRS priority list.
  • A spreadsheet summarizing ILRS station site logs is now available.

2009

  • Graham Appleby was elected chair of the ILRS Governing Board in December 2009.
  • The ILRS Governing Board has approved tracking of KOMPSAT-5.
  • Lunar Laser Ranging has resumed at the upgraded Grasse station. Developments were supported by several agencies including OCA, CNES, and the French national institute of the universe science.
  • The ILRS Governing Board has approved tracking of RadioAstron and CryoSat-2.
  • PROBA-2 was launched on November 02, 2009; SLR tracking will commence in early 2010.
  • ESA and the Galileo project have requested a special GIOVE-A tracking campaign for November 06-26, 2009 to characterise the nature of the so-called Y-bias.
  • Our colleague Werner Gurtner passed away on Saturday, October 24, 2009 after a long illness. Werner was the chair of the ILRS Governing Board since 2002 and one of the founding members of the IGS. He was responsible for the development of the SLR station at Zimmerwald. Werner will be greatly missed by the global geodetic community.
  • An executive summary and full workshop report for the Fall 2009 ILRS Technical Workshop "SLR Tracking of GNSS Constellations" is now available.
  • The SLR global performance report card for the 3rd quarter of 2009 has been published.
  • STSAT-2A was launched on August 25, 2009; unfortunately, the satellite was lost due to a separation failure of fairing protecting the satellite.
  • ANDE was successfully deployed from the Space Shuttle on July 30, 2009.
  • The first two successful SLR passes between a terrestrial ground station and a spacecraft orbiting the Moon were obtained on July 1, and July 2, 2009 between the NGSLR station at Greenbelt, Maryland, USA, and the Lunar Reconnaissance Orbiter (LRO). The first pass was obtained between 22:11 and approximately 23:10 UTC on July 1, 2009. LRO is in a low-altitude, near-polar commissioning orbit around the Moon. All spacecraft systems are being carefully and systematically checked. The Lunar Ranging data to LRO are being analyzed and validated and the data flow and system operations for operational ranging to LRO are being tested. The LR system on LRO will supplement the S Band (radio) tracking system for purposes of precision orbit determination and gravity field improvement.
  • At the request of our Russian colleagues, GLONASS-115 replaces GLONASS-99 in the satellite tracking roster.
  • ESA's gravity mission GOCE (Gravity field and steady-state Ocean Circulation Explorer) launched on March 17, 2009. Learn more about GOCE mission, including SLR's contribution to the mission through a demonstration of SLR at Herstmonceux.
  • A Web site for the presentations and proceedings from the 16th International Laser Ranging Workshop is now available.

Data & Products Past News

ILRS Data Formats and Procedures WG meeting in Koetzting

Current CRD implementation status

New contacts for NASA SLR data operations