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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.

ILRS logoTransition to CRD V2 formatRelease Date: 08/16/2022 The ILRS CB and ILRS DF&PSC announced in June that the transition from the Consolidated laser Ranging Data (CRD) format version 1 to version 2 was to occur on August 1, 2022. This transition has occurred and CRD v2 data can be downloaded from the desired data center:

NASA CDDIS:

Users who have not transitioned should do so immediately. Although we have requested that stations continue to provide data in the old and new formats for a limited time longer, we cannot guarantee their compliance.

launch of LARES satelliteSuccessful Launch of LARES-2 – 13 July 2022 at 13:13:17 UTCRelease Date: 07/15/2022 LARES-2 was successfully launched from Kourou, FR Guiana, on July 13, 2022, at 13:13 UTC on the inaugural VEGA-C launch VV21. It was inserted in the designed orbit (without spin!) about an hour and a half later. Following the lucky tradition set by LARES in 2012, the launch date was picked again to be the 13th of the month! The release was done over Yarragadee; as soon as ESA provides initial elements, CPF prediction files will be generated and delivered to ILRS. Following that we will wait to hear which of our systems will get it first!

https://www.nasaspaceflight.com/2022/07/vega-c-debut-launch/

For those who missed the launch, you can see the entire program on ESA WEB YouTube channel:

English: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=sJTm-3QxDQc

French: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=XnijRbDBxZE





Below is a picture of the moment LARES-2 is released:




LARES satelliteThe Second LARES 2 and fifth LARES International Science WorkshopRelease Date: 05/26/2022 Rome, Italy, May 31 –June 3 , 2022
General Relativity, Time and Time Travel in General Relativity, Space Research and John Archibald Wheeler.
Preliminary list of invited speakers: Kip Thorne (Caltech), Roger Penrose (Oxford University) and Igor Novikov (Lebedev Institute)

View program.

ESA logoESA Lunar Pathfinder mission to include Lunar Laser RangingRelease Date: 04/28/2022 The European Space Agency (ESA) announced that a test version of unique satellite navigation receiver has been delivered for the Lunar Pathfinder spacecraft, scheduled for launch in 2024. The receiver will receive GNSS-signals from the Galileo and GPS constellations for position, navigation and timing around the Moon. The Lunar Pathfinder spacecraft will also carry a laser retroreflector array for lunar laser ranging, and an X-Band transponder for ranging and communications using conventional deep space tracking facilities.

The laser retroreflector array on Lunar Pathfinder will be an evolution of the retroreflector array designed for NASA's Lunar Reconnaissance Orbiter (LRO). The LRO retroreflector array is a 15 × 18 × 5 cm, 650-g array of twelve 32-mm diameter solid corner cubes mounted on the LRO anti-nadir deck. In 2020, NASA scientists and colleagues from the ILRS station at Grasse, France, conducted successful two-way laser ranging to the LRO spacecraft.

Lunar Pathfinder will relay signals from lunar orbital and lunar surface missions, and provide navigation information for lunar orbiting and surface assets. The Lunar Pathfinder spacecraft is being built by SSTL (Surrey Satellite Technology Limited) in the U.K.

Link for ESA news story: https://www.esa.int/Applications/Navigation/The_Moon_where_no_satnav_has_gone_before

Description of Lunar Laser Ranging to NASA's Lunar Reconnaissance Orbiter (LRO)
Mazarico E., Sun X., Torre JM. et al (2020). "First two-way laser ranging to a lunar orbiter: infrared observations from the Grasse station to LRO's retro-reflector array". Earth Planets Space 72, 113. doi:10.1186/s40623-020-01243-w

GGOS logoGGOS Coordinating Office Develops Film to Promote GeodesyRelease Date: 04/28/2022 The Global Geodetic Observing System (GGOS) Coordinating Office has helped to organize a general ∼8 minute video that explains geodesy, the geodetic observations and products that are available from the different IAG services, and the benefits of geodesy to science and society.

The GGOS video so far is available in English, Spanish, German, French & Japanese.

Contributors included Allison Craddock (IGS, NASA/JPL, USA), Detlef Angermann (GGOS, TU München, Germany), Basara Miyahara (GGOS, Geospatial Information Authority of Japan), Laura Sánchez (GGOS, TU München, Germany), Martin Sehnal (GGOS, BEV Federal Office of Metrology and Surveying, Austria), Michael Pearlman (ILRS, Harvard Center for Astrophysics, USA), Riccardo Barzaghi (IAG, Politecnico di Milano, Italy), Adrian Jäggi (IAG, AIUB, Switzerland), Zuheir Altamimi (IAG, Institut Géographique National, France), Richard Gross (GGOS, NASA/JPL, USA), Kosuke Heki (GGOS, Hokkaido University, Japan), Toshimichi Otsubo (ILRS, Hitotsubashi University, Japan), Laurent Soudarin (IDS, CLS, France), Alexandre Couhert (IDS, CNES, France), Pascale Ferrage (IDS, CNES, France), Frank Lemoine (IDS & ILRS, NASA GSFC, USA), Kayako Hori, Shinobu Kurihara, William Martínez, and Katharina Sehnal.

Check out the videos on YouTube:

English: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Jwqz097N2IY

Spanish: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=biqkQ8Iy5rI

French: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=9CLlDXIl_aI

German: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=6sjp4cGbKT8

Japanese: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=SQ6k64IkQ1g

Please share the video(s) in your home institutes and on social media.

If you would like to contribute to GGOS by translating the video into another language, please contact the GGOS Coordinating Office (email: co AT ggos.org).

IERS logoThe IERS ITRS Center at the IGN (Institut Géographique National, France) announced the availability of the ITRF2020 solution Release Date: 04/21/2022 On April 15, 2022, the IERS ITRS Center at the IGN (Institut Géographique National, France) announced the availability of the ITRF2020 solution at their dedicated web site:

https://itrf.ign.fr/en/solutions/ITRF2020

The new reference frame realization includes the contributions of all the IAG Geodetic Services (IVS, ILRS, IDS, IGS) and their Analysis Centers and Combination Centers. The ILRS contribution was based on a reprocessing of SLR data to the LAGEOS, LAGEOS-2 & the two Etalon satellites from 1993.0 to 2020.0 and to LAGEOS only from 1983.0 to 1993.0. As part of the reprocessing, the ILRS Analysis Standing Committee (ASC) conducted a 5-year effort of systematic analysis, to determine systematic errors in the SLR data. The reanalysis incorporated an improved "target signature" model (CoG) for better separation of true systematic errors from errors in describing the target's signature (Rodriguez et al., 2019; Pavlis et al., 2021). A major result is that the scale difference with VLBI in ITRF2020 is ~1.4 mm (0.23 ppb) compared to ITRF2014 where the SLR-VLBI scale difference was ~8.8 mm (1.37 ppb). While SLR defines the origin of the ITRF, both SLR & VLBI are used to define the scale of the ITRF. We show the characteristics of the ILRS contribution to ITRF2020 in the figure below, with the ITRF2020 SLR scale in blue and the ITRF2014 SLR scale in red (Pavlis et al., 2021).


The ILRS ASC is working on an ILRS extended version, the SLRF2020, which will include the SLR stations that were not part of the ITRF2020 solution and will provide instructions on how to get the highest accuracy results when implementing this extended model in SLR data analysis.

In the meantime, users should visit the ITRF website to update their procedures with the new files and software that have been released with the ITRF2020, and should implement the new Post-Seismic Displacement model and other related enhancements.

The ITRS solutions by the other ITRS centers, DTRF2020 from DGFI-TUM (Deutsches Geodätisches Forschungsinstitut, Technische Universität München), and JTRF2020 from JPL (the NASA Jet Propulsion Laboratory), are being finalized and should be available in the near future (e.g. Glomsda et al., 2021).

References:
Glomsda M., Seitz M., Bloßfeld M. et al. (2021). "DTRF2020: the ITRS2020 realization of DGFI-TUM", Frontiers of Geodetic Science (virtual meeting, Sept. 22, 2021). (https://mediatum.ub.tum.de/doc/1625232/1625232.pdf)

Pavlis E., Luceri V., Basoni A. et al. (2021). "ITRF2020: The International Laser Ranging Service (ILRS) Contribution, AGU 2021 Fall Meeting , 13-17 December 2021, doi:10.1002/essoar.10509208.1

Rodriguez, J., Appleby, G., Otsubo, T. (2019). "Upgraded modelling for the determination of centre of mass corrections of geodetic SLR satellites: impact on key parameters of the terrestrial reference frame", J. Geodesy, 93(12), 2553-2568, doi:10.1007/s00190-019-01315-0.

Tenerife stationNew ILRS Station Izaña (7701, IZ1L) in Tenerife (Canary Islands, Spain) is now OperationalRelease Date: 04/14/2022 Izaña (7701) has completed the requirements to be an operational station in the ILRS network and its data has been released from quarantine. The Analysis Standing Committee has approved the release of data collected since 2021-11-28.

We thank our station colleagues Andrea Di Mira, Jens Steinborn for their efforts, and congratulate them on this achievement!

IRNSS SatelliteILRS Stations Participate in Tracking Campaign for the IRNSS SatellitesRelease Date: 04/12/2022 From April 17-30, 2022 at the request of ISRO (Indian Space Research Organization), the ILRS Central Bureau is organizing a tracking campaign for the IRNSS Indian constellation of GNSS satellites. The objective is for the network to provide an even distribution of SLR normal points around the orbit, for the satellites that are the focus of the campaign. The IRNSS satellites are located in geosynchronous (24-hr) orbits over the Indian Ocean region and their ground track makes a 'figure-8' on the surface of the Earth.

Seven satellites (IRNSS-1A,1B,1C,1D,1E,1F and IRNSS-1I) make up the IRNSS constellation, and are on the ILRS tracking roster. The distance to the geosynchronous orbit altitude (35786 km) makes these satellites challenging objects to track for the ILRS stations. Each IRNSS satellite is equipped with a retroreflector array consisting of 40 corner cubes, where each cube is 29.7 mm in height and 38 mm in diameter. These cubes were designed, manufactured and tested in India. The retroreflector arrays underwent thermo-optical characterization at the National Institute of Nuclear Physics/National Laboratory of Frascati facility in Italy (Porcelli et al., 2017). The current tracking campaign is a follow-on to an earlier ILRS campaign in 2018.

During the current campaign ILRS stations in the Eastern Region of the Indian Ocean (Asia, Australia) will track IRNSS 1C plus IRNSS -1D. ILRS stations in the Western Region of the Indian Ocean (Europe, Africa) will track IRNSS 1C plus IRNSS- 1I. While stations may try to track in the daytime, but it is expected that most data will be obtained during nighttime passes.

The IRNSS tracking data from the campaign will be used to assess the performance of these IRNSS satellites, in a similar way to how SLR data are used to validate the performance of other GNSS constellations such as Galileo.

References:

IRNSS constellation home page: https://www.isro.gov.in/irnss-programme

Kogure S., Ganeshan A.S., and Montenbruck O. (2017). "Regional systems", in Springer Handbook of Global Navigation Satellite Systems, pp. 305-337, I Teunissen, P.J., Montenbruck, O. (eds). Springer-Verlag, Cham. doi:10.1007/978-3-319-42928-1_11.

Porcelli, L., et al. (2017). "Thermo-optical vacuum testing of IRNSS laser retroreflector array qualification model", Adv. Space Res., 60(5), 1054-1061, doi: 10.1016/j.asr.2017.05.012.

Sen J.R., Lakshimi K.T. Mukundun M. et al. (2020). "IRNSS information for beginners", Remote Sensing of Clouds and the Atmosphere XXV, Proceedings of SPIE, 11531, 115310O, doi: 10.1117/12.2575993.

ILRS logoDefinitions of Pass, Pass-Segment, and SessionRelease Date: 04/11/2022 The CDDIS, EDC, and NASA DOC provide statistics for the ILRS community including the monthly report cards, verification counts, and statistics for presentations and reports. These groups have worked together to standardize their definitions of a pass and a pass-segment.

The following definitions have been agreed to:

  • A pass is defined as all tracking that lasts less than a full satellite period. For geosynchronous satellites, the duration is capped at 24 hours; this is the standard product.
  • A pass-segment is another term for a session (interval of continuous data) which is a reflection of how the data was taken at the station and submitted to the data centers. A single pass-segment/session is counted from one H1 to H8.

A pass includes all data taken on a satellite during one transit over the station. The pass-segment is just a magnification of how the data was taken and submitted.

REFAG 2022 logoCall for Papers for IAG REFAG2022 Meeting Release Date: 04/04/2022 The primary scope of REFAG 2022 is to address today's theoretical concepts of reference systems and their practical implementation by space geodetic techniques and their combination. Contributions for the meeting may include, global reference frames by individual space geodetic techniques and their combination; space geodetic measurements and mitigation of their systematic errors; geocenter motion and non-tidal loading effects; terrestrial and space geodetic ties for multi-technique combination; regional reference frames and related applications; Celestial reference frames; comparison and combination of Earth Orientation parameters; and use and challenges of geodetic reference frames for Earth science applications. The scientific program of the symposium will also cover initiatives and projects that endorse the role of geodetic reference frames for scientific exploration, sustainable development, climate monitoring, and satellite navigation.

Key Dates:

  • June 20, 2022 (Abstract deadline)
  • July 25, 2022 (Early registration deadline)
For more information, check the URL for the meeting: www.refag2022.org


station in Tenerife SpainNew ILRS Station (Izaña, IZ1L) in Tenerife (Canary Islands, Spain) undergoing acceptance testingRelease Date: 03/28/2022 The new SLR station Izaña (IZ1L, Tenerife, Canary Islands, Spain) is undergoing acceptance testing. The station is providing tracking data to LAGEOS-1, LAGEOS-2 and LARES which are being analyzed by the ILRS Analysis Standing Committee (ASC) to verify the performance prior to its acceptance as an operational station of the ILRS. The station Izaña (IZ1L) is built for the European Space Agency (ESA) by a consortium of European companies and institutes under the lead of DiGOS Potsdam GmbH (Germany). A recent article in the online space news periodical "spaceref.com" provides news of and a description of the station. (URL: http://spaceref.com/commercial-space/new-laser-station-lights-the-way-to-space-debris-reduction.html)

station in Tenerife Spain

ESA's new Izaña (IZ1L) laser ranging station in Tenerife, Canary Islands, Spain



ILRS logoCPF v1 format discontinuedRelease Date: 03/10/2022 On March 1, 2022, the ILRS officially discontinued predictions in the CPF v1 format and have switched to the CPF v2 format. Please find the most recent predictions available at https://cddis.nasa.gov/archive/slr/cpf_predicts_v2/current/

IAG logoIAG Statement on UkraineRelease Date: 03/04/2022 The International Association of Geodesy, a parent organization of the IVS/ILRS, has posted a statement on Ukraine. Read the statement.



Tom ClarkThe Passing of Professopr George Veis (based on a bio written by Ivan Mueller)Release Date: 01/31/2022 It is with great sadness that we convey the passing of George Veis, scientist, teacher, and a good friend to all of us; truly one of the fathers of Space Geodesy.

George was born in Athens in 1929. In 1951 he graduated in Surveying Engineering from the National Technical University of Athens (NTUA). In 1955 he was the recipient of a Greek state fellowship for advanced studies in Paris at the Sorbonne and the Ecole Nationale des Sciences Geographiques. He then spent some time at the Observatoire de Paris and the Bureau Gravimetrique International. Starting in 1957 he continued his postgraduate studies at the Ohio State University, where he was awarded with his PhD in 1958, after defending his famous dissertation on the "Geodetic Applications of Observations of the Moon, Artificial Satellites and Rockets".

George was one of the framers of the early Satellite Geodesy Program at the Smithsonian Astrophysical Observatory, which itself was a fundamental element of the early NASA Space Geodesy Activity.

George joined the Smithsonian Astrophysical Observatory (SAO), (later the Harvard Smithsonian Center for Astrophysics) in 1959 at the beginning of satellite geodesy era and the deployment of the Baker Nunn Satellite Tracking Cameras for geodetic and other scientific research. Over two decades as principal scientific consultant at SAO, he helped guide activities as the satellite geodesy program evolved with the Baker Nunn Camera and the emergence of Satellite Laser Ranging (SLR). He worked with the engineers on the design of the SAO SLR systems and the retroreflectors on satellites.

While at SAO, George contributed the early concept and evolution of the Differential Orbit Improvement (DOI) Program, which became the main analysis tool for satellite tracking, geopotential estimation, station coordinate determination, and satellite drag research. He defined the fundamental reference system used for many years, which now forms the basis of modern models of earth rotation, precession, and nutation. He also initiated the SAO Star Catalogue project, which provided a uniform all-sky catalogue for precision camera observations, and was used for many years all over the world.

Keeping his connection with SAO, George returned to NTUA, where he was elected Professor of Surveying (renamed later Higher Geodesy and Cartography) to develop satellite geodesy in Greece.

In 1969 he established the tracking station at Dionysos, installed a Baker-Nunn camera there, and began developing a laser ranging system. He had the vision of a complete geophysical observatory with, of course, satellite tracking, a meteorological observatory, earth tide monitoring, strain gauges, etc. He also developed surveys based on Transit Doppler measurements and GPS when the equipment became available. As an early mobile SLR deployment, George transported the Dionysos laser system to the remote island of Othoni, north of Corfu, Greece, and used it in October of 1973 to measure the distance to an Italian target at Specchia, Cristi at the tip of the boot. This measurement enabled for the first time the accurate connection of the Greek geodetic network with main Europe (Balodimos D., Geodetic Connection between Greece and Italy, Anno xxxvi, Bollettino di Geodesia e scienze Affini, 1977).

Dionysos laser system deployed on the island of Othoni northeast of Corfu, Greece, in October of 1973 (D. Balodimos personal archive).

Dionysos laser system deployed on the island of Othoni northeast of Corfu, Greece, in October of 1973 (D. Balodimos personal archive).

George's department at NTUA was a major source of young geodesists for the global community.

The Dionysos station contributed to the MERIT, MEDLAS, WEGENER and other programs. Between 1965 and 1984 George also organised the famous series of international symposia, in Lagonissi and Athens, on the "Use of Artificial Satellites for Geodesy and Geodynamics". The five volumes of the proceedings of these symposia document a great part of 20 years of geodetic history.

George's career as a science-administrator was also rich. As a member of the NTUA's senate and the Dean of the Faculty of Surveying Engineering, he suffered a short, but painful imprisonment by the military dictatorship in Greece, because of his proper academic comportment during students protest which caused the furious reaction of the regime. He was the Secretary General of the Hellenic Committee for Geodesy and Geophysics, its President from 1982 to 1990. He was President of the Board of the Athens National Observatory and the President of the Observatory's Scientific Council. He was the President of the Cadastre and Mapping Organization of Greece and the President of the National Consultative Council for Research. He also presided over several IAG/IUGG and COSPAR organizations. George retired from the NTUA in 1997. The ETH of Zurich honored him with an Honorary Doctor's degree.

George continued to be active in a key position as the President of the important Supreme Council for Personnel Selection, a state authority responsible for the selection of personnel for the public administration in Greece. George was awarded the Levallois Medal in 2003 in recognition of his distinguished service to the science of geodesy.

George Veis continued to be endlessly creative, engaging, seducing, elegant, modern and forever young scientist, who shared his ideas with enthusiasm, and helped everyone with whom he had contact. He witnessed the birth of space geodesy, its evolution from many meters to mm's, and continued to think about its future until his death. He had celebrated his 92nd birthday last September 8th, 2021.

George is survived by his wife Katerina, and children Konstandinos, Alexandros, Ino, Nico and Maria, and his grandchildren. His funeral is set for January 31, at noon.

May his memory be an abiding blessing.

George Veis during his last visit to the USA in 2014, while attending the ILRS Annapolis Workshop.

George Veis during his last visit to the USA in 2014, while attending the ILRS Annapolis Workshop.



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