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Recent News

This page contains all recent ILRS news. For those interested in news specific to satellite missions, please visit our Mission News page.

Banner for 2019 Technical WorkshopIntroductory and Refresher Course on Satellite and Lunar Laser RangingRelease Date: 07/11/2019The ILRS has scheduled a one-day introductory course to give non-practitioners in SLR an opportunity to broaden their knowledge about laser ranging to Earth-orbiting satellites and the Moon. The course will also provide those with some experience in the field an opportunity to refresh and strengthen their knowledge and increase their appreciation of this powerful measurement technique that supports geoscience and applications. The course is scheduled for Sunday, October 20, 2019, in Stuttgart, Germany, just prior to the 2019 ILRS Technical Workshop. The program for this one-day "SLR School" is available.

Talks will be given in a tutorial format, with time for questions and discussion. Interested parties can attend the school with or without participating in the Workshop. Attendees will be charged an entrance fee of 30 Euros to cover lunch and breaks.

Tutorials will differ in length depending on the topic, but each session should leave ample time for questions and discussion. Seminars will be given at the level of a non-expert, recognizing that we expect people to attend who are not currently working in the field, but are curious, as well as people who are newly involved in laser ranging, but need to broadening their current level of understanding.

The one-day SLR School will be a great way for attendees to get an overview of an important component of the space geodesy measurement constellation. Please see the attached PDF for the topics to be covered in the program. Participants in the 2019 ILRS Technical Workshop can indicate their plans to attend the SLR School during registration (see http://dlr.de/ilrs2019). Those wishing to attend only the SLR School should contact the workshop’s local organizing committee (ilrs.workshop@dlr.de); arrangements are being made for payment of the one-day fee.

This one-day event is an opportunity for participants to get an overall view of satellite laser ranging and is the first time that such a school has been offered. The school will be held at the:

Pullman Stuttgart Fontana Hotel
Vollmoellerstraße 5, 70563 Stuttgart, Germany

More Information on hotels, transportation, etc., is available on the workshop website at: http://dlr.de/ilrs2019.

map showing station performanceNew ILRS monthly station performance maps releasedRelease Date: 05/23/2019The CDDIS has started supplying monthly ILRS network and station performance assessment maps on the ILRS website as a supplement to the system performance tools we currently provide. These maps were presented at the 21st International Workshop on Laser Ranging and changes were incorporated based on inputs from the station clinic attendees. Due to limitations based on the software packages used to build these maps, CDDIS is not able to incorporate all features at this time. In addition, LLR was added (not as a requirement) while GNSS Pass parameters were removed for reassessment. The maps are available on the ILRS website within the System Performance section at https://ilrs.cddis.eosdis.nasa.gov/network/system_performance/monthly_station_performance_maps/index.html

ILRS logo2019 ILRS Technical Workshop First Circular ReleasedRelease Date: 05/13/2019The first circular for the 2019 ILRS Technical Workshop has been released. The workshop will take place October 21-25 in Stuttgart, Germany.

LARES satelliteSecond Circular for the 2019 LARES/LARES-2 Workshop ReleasedRelease Date: 04/25/2019The Second Circular for the meeting has been released and conatins information on registration, conference fees, partial support, awards, conference location and hotels. The workshop will take place in Rome, Italy July 01-05. Please visit the workshop website for the information contained in the circular.

SGSLRJan McGarry gives SGSLR presentation to GSFC Astronomy ClubRelease Date: 04/09/2019Jan McGarry, NASA GSFC, gave a presentation to the GSFC Astronomy Club on April 09, 2019 highlighting the initial development and testing of the SGSLR system at Goddard’s Geophysical and Astronomical Observatory (GGAO). The talk also included background on SLR and NASA’s legacy SLR network, as well as the ILRS and SGP and future plans for the global deployment of SGSLR systems.

Observatory at HaleakalaCommercial power to TLRS-4 at Haleakala restoredRelease Date: 03/14/2019A winter storm damaged commercial power transmission lines to the observatories on Haleakala, Hawaii, USA on February 10, 2019. Commercial power to TLRS-4 at Haleakala has been restored.

Etalon satelliteEtalon-1 and -2 tracking campaignRelease Date: 03/13/2019SLR has the opportunity to play a more significant role on the determination of Earth Orientation Parameters (EOP), an important element in the reference frame and parameters for many of our customers. With our improving ability to track GNSS satellites, we are conducting a 3-month Etalon campaign, from February 15 through May 15, 2019. Weekly reports are now available.

Observatory at HaleakalaTLRS-4 at Haleakala without powerRelease Date: 02/19/2019A winter storm damaged commercial power transmission lines to the observatories on Haleakala, Hawaii, USA. Since February 10, TLRS-4 has been without power.

The local electric power company estimates repair to take a minimum of 4 weeks and as long as 8 weeks. The team is exploring ways to power the site with a backup generator or by connecting to a nearby observatory that has backup power.

ILRS logoNew Site Log Version and ProcedureRelease Date: 02/13/2019As you may be aware, there is a new version of the ILRS site log and a new procedure for submitting it. The procedure is documented on the ILRS web site at https://ilrs.cddis.eosdis.nasa.gov/network/site_procedures/site_logs.html. It involves creating or updating the site log via an on-line editor based at EDC. Submissions of text versions of the site log will no longer be accepted.

The version 1 site logs were converted automatically to version 2, but many have errors that need to be corrected. If you have not done so yet, please follow the procedures on the web site and update your site log to correct errors and add information in the new fields by May 10 of this year.

There is also a similar on-line editor at EDC to create or update your station change history log. Please see the instruction at https://ilrs.cddis.eosdis.nasa.gov/network/site_procedures/configuration_files.html.

ILRS logoPlanning for the 2019 ILRS Technical Workshop has begunRelease Date: 02/12/2019Planning for the 2019 ILRS Technical Workshop has begun! We ask that you mark your calendars and reserve the date for the next gathering of the ILRS community:

Dates: October 21-25, 2019
Location: Stuttgart, Germany

The workshop will be sponsored by the DLR in Stuttgart, Germany. The program committee is actively working on the defining the theme and session topics for the workshop while the local organizers are planning the workshop logistics. The first circular for the workshop will be issued in the very near future.

We hope you will consider attending the workshop!

Lunar Laser Ranging - Green laser poiting at the moon.Lunar Laser Ranging featured on the "Today" showRelease Date: 02/11/2019NBC Sunday Today recently reported on lunar laser ranging activities at the APOLLO system in Sunspot NM.

Richard BiancaleThe Passing of Richard BiancaleRelease Date: 02/08/2019It is with profound sadness that we must announce to you the passing our colleague, Dr. Richard Biancale, geodesist, recently retired from the CNES in September 2018, and most recently working at the GFZ (Oberpfaffenhofen) with Dr. Frank Flechtner on GRACE Follow-On. We were informed of his death on Monday February 4, 2019 from a heart attack while skiing in the Alps.

Richard had a long and distinguished career in Space Geodesy. He received his Ph.D. in 1978 from the University Pierre and Marie Curie in Paris (France) while working under Professor Cristoph Reigber at the Technical University of Munich (Germany). He worked as a research scientist at the University of São Paulo, at the DGFI (Deutsches Geodãtisches Forschungsinstitut) in Munich (Germany), and at CERGA (Centre d'Etudes et de Recherches en Géodynamique et Astronométrie) Grasse (France), before joining the French Space Agency, the CNES (Toulouse, France) in 1982 as a scientific engineer.

Under the direction of Michel Lefebvre, one of his first jobs at the CNES was to define the DORIS tracking system for the TOPEX/Poseidon mission. Since 1984, he was very involved in the French-German cooperation on gravity field modeling, first with the GRIM models, and then with the EIGEN models after the launches of CHAMP and GRACE. He served as the scientific manager of the Stella laser geodetic satellite, launched in 1993. Under the direction of Dr. Georges Balmino, he became chief of the "Terrestrial and Planetary Geodetic Department" of the CNES in 1992. He received his "Habilitation" in 2006 and, starting in 2008, served as Executive Director of the Groupe de Recherche de Géodésie Spatiale (GRGS), a French national group that gathers 120 researchers from organizations involved in Space Geodesy studies.

Over the course of his career he has supervised and inspired more than a dozen Ph.D students and served as a mentor to many colleagues and young scientists. Understanding the importance of training the next generation of scientists in satellite geodesy, he has taught geodesy for over 25 years at engineer schools (e.g. ENSG [École de la Géomatique/National School of Geographic Sciences], ENSTA [École Nationale Supérieure de Techniques Avancées]), at universities (e.g. Paris VI), and short training courses (e.g. GRGS Summer School).

Throughout his career he has worked assiduously to improve the quality of geodetic data, and to advance the science obtained from these data. He was a strong proponent of the need for improving the International Terrestrial Reference Frame (ITRF), supporting the contributions to the IDS, IGS, ILRS, IVS and IERS. He has participated and led national and international proposals for new innovative space missions that would continue to advance the contribution of geodesy to science and society. Most recently, before and after his retirement from CNES, he worked to advance the proposal for the Tahiti Geodetic Observatory, a fundamental station including VLBI, SLR, GNSS and DORIS whose geographic location would be of prime importance to the ITRF and to the mm-level goals of the Global Geodetic Observing System (GGOS) in the next decade.

As many of his colleagues noticed, Richard Biancale had a joie de vivre. He was a charming, free, passionate and cheerful man who embraced life whether it was in a fine restaurant after a scientific meeting, sailing around the Mediterranean or across the Atlantic on his catamaran, "RaphyO2", or visiting interesting cultural or natural locales. As his colleagues, we were all privileged to enjoy his friendship. We lament this tragic loss.

To his family, including wife, Irmtraud, and four children, Raphaël, Philipp, Johannes & Jocelyne, we extend our deepest sympathy and most heartfelt condolences.

Frank Lemoine
(NASA Goddard Space Flight Center, Greenbelt, Maryland, U.S.A)
Laurent Soudarin
(Collecte Localisation Satellites, Ramonvile-Saint Agne, FRANCE)
Jean-Michel Lemoine & Pascale Ferrage
(Centre Nationale d' Études Spatiales, Toulouse, FRANCE)
Jean-Paul Boy
(EOST, University of Strasbourg, Strasbourg, FRANCE)

ILRS logoElection of the two Board-appointed members to the ILRS Governing BoardRelease Date: 02/11/2019 The ILRS Governing Board is pleased to announce that the election of the two Board-appointed members to the ILRS Governing Board has been completed. We were fortunate to have had many qualified candidates participate in the election process. The members of the ILRS Governing Board have elected Ulli Schreiber (Technische Universität München) and Krzysztof Sośnica (Wrocław University of Environmental and Life Sciences) to these two positions.

Etalon satellite2019 Etalon Tracking CampaignRelease Date: 02/07/2019 SLR has the opportunity to play a more significant role on the determination of Earth Orientation Parameters (EOP), an important element in the reference frame and parameters for many of our customers. With our improving ability to track GNSS satellites, the ILRS has asked the network stations to participate in a 3-month Etalon tracking campaign from February 15 through May 15, 2019. For more information: https://ilrs.cddis.eosdis.nasa.gov/science/awg/awgActivities/proposedTrackingEtalon1_and_2_Feb2019.html

ILRS logoNew guidelines for missions seeking ILRS support for SLR trackingRelease Date: 02/04/2019 The ILRS Missions Standing Committee (MSC) and Governing Board have recently approved new guidelines for missions seeking ILRS support for SLR tracking. Mission contacts should consult the "Guidelines for Submitting an ILRS New Mission Support Request" documentation prior to submitting a completed ILRS Missions Support Request to the ILRS Central Bureau.

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