This page contains all recent ILRS news. For those interested in news specific to satellite missions, please visit our Mission News page.
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).
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.
Release Date: 04/15/2013
The 2013 1st quarter report card has been published.
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)
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.
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 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).
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.
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.
ITRF2013 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:
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.
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, 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 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 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.
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:
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.
Read the NASA news release
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."
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!
Release Date: 01/04/2013
The 2012 4th quarter report card has been published.
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.
Release Date: 10/23/2012
The 2012 3rd quarter report card has been published.
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.
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 firstname.lastname@example.org. 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.
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.
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.
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.
Release Date: 07/15/2012 The 2012 2nd quarter report card has been published.
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 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.
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.
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.