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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 logo2021 ILRS Technical/Specialty WorkshopRelease Date: 04/02/2020 The ILRS Governing Board is pleased to announce that the 2021 ILRS Technical/Specialty Workshop will be held in the October 2021 timeframe in Arequipa, Peru. The workshop will be hosted by the Astronomical and Aerospace Institute at the University of San Agustin.

At this time, the ILRS continues planning for the 22nd International Workshop on Laser Ranging in November 2020 with the local hosts in Kunming, China.

ILRS logoNew members of the ILRS Governing BoardRelease Date: 03/01/2020 Toshi Otsubo has announced that Jose Rodriguez (IGN Yebes) and Sven Bauer (GFZ Potsdam) have been elected by their EUROLAS colleagues as their representatives on the ILRS Governing Board. The change is effective 1 March 2020.

Toshi has sent his thanks to the former EUROLAS representatives Georg Kirchner and Pippo Bianco acknowledging that they worked not just for Europe on the Board but for the world-wide community for a long time. The ILRS hopes Georg and Pippo will stay actively involved in the ILRS.

ILRS logoNew Software for ILRS Gloal Report CardsRelease Date: 02/12/2020 The ILRS has been generating global report cards on a quarterly and monthly basis since 2012. A new version of the report card software is now available with changes that provide more accurate pass and NP counts, satellite RMS, and LAGEOS bias information. In addition, the table summarizing LLR data (Table 1 L) has been split into two parts (Table L1 and L2) to provide individual lunar retroreflector information. The report cards are available at: https://ilrs.cddis.eosdis.nasa.gov/network/system_performance/global_report_cards/monthly/.

For more information on the changes made to the report cards, please see: https://ilrs.eosdis.nasa.gov/network/system_performance/global_report_cards/report_card_differences_Jan01_2020.html.

Using the new software, data for the report cards between 2013 and 2020 has been regenerated and may be downloaded. The files are comma-delimited and available at https://ilrs.eosdis.nasa.gov/network/system_performance/global_report_cards/data_for_previous_report_cards.html.

ILRS logoNew ILRS Governing Board MemberRelease Date: 01/22/2020 As of January 01, 2020, Evan Hoffman/NASA GSFC has replaced Jan McGarry as one of the NASA Representatives on the ILRS Governing Board. The ILRS thanks Jan, an active and responsive member of the Board; we look forward to continued interactions with Jan and welcome Evan to the Board.

ILRS logoFirst announcement of the 22nd International Workshop on Laser RangingRelease Date: 01/08/2020 The 22nd International Workshop on Laser Ranging will be held in Kunming, China November 02 - 06, 2020. There will be five days of interesting presentations, a lot of time for formal and informal discussions, meeting project partners and paving the road for the future development of satellite laser ranging.

During the workshop there will also be a chance to visit the laser ranging station in Kunming. Theme and session topics for the workshop are currently under discussion. The organizers are open for ideas and suggestions, so please contact the local organizing committee at ilrs.workshop@ynao.ac.cn if you would like to see specific topics included in the workshop.

Additional announcements will be made when registration and abstract submission are opened.

The BLITS-M satelliteBLITS-M UpdateRelease Date: 01/02/2020 The BLITS-M satellite was launched on December 27, 2019. Mission contacts report that the spacecraft has not separated from the orbital insertion unit. Investigations are underway regarding this issue.

ILRS logoMissions Standing Committee UpdateRelease Date: 01/02/2020 Effective January 01, 2020, Rob Sherwood is serving as the co-chair of the Missions Standing Committee.

Welcome Rob!

Journal of Geodesy Special issue coverJournal of Geodesy "Special Issue: Satellite Laser Ranging" now publishedRelease Date: 11/25/2019 The Journal of Geodesy has recently published the "Special Issue: Satellite Laser Ranging" (Volume 93, Issue 11, November 2019, editors Erricos Pavlis, Vincenza Luceri, Toshimichi Otsubo, Ulrich Schreiber). This issue consists of twenty papers detailing recent developments in SLR:

Preface to the second special issue on Laser Ranging, Pavlis, E.C., Luceri, V., Otsubo, T. et al. J Geod (2019) 93: 2159. https://doi.org/10.1007/s00190-019-01305-2

The ILRS: approaching 20 years and planning for the future, Pearlman, M.R., Noll, C.E., Pavlis, E.C. et al. J Geod (2019) 93: 2161. https://doi.org/10.1007/s00190-019-01241-1

Laser geodetic satellites: a high-accuracy scientific tool, Pearlman, M., Arnold, D., Davis, M. et al. J Geod (2019) 93: 2181. https://doi.org/10.1007/s00190-019-01228-y

Lunar Laser Ranging: a tool for general relativity, lunar geophysics and Earth science, Müller, J., Murphy, T.W., Schreiber, U. et al. J Geod (2019) 93: 2195. https://doi.org/10.1007/s00190-019-01296-0

Information resources supporting scientific research for the international laser ranging service, Noll, C.E., Ricklefs, R., Horvath, J. et al. J Geod (2019) 93: 2211. https://doi.org/10.1007/s00190-018-1207-2

The next generation of satellite laser ranging systems, Wilkinson, M., Schreiber, U., Procházka, I. et al. J Geod (2019) 93: 2227. https://doi.org/10.1007/s00190-018-1196-1

NASA’s satellite laser ranging systems for the twenty-first century, McGarry, J.F., Hoffman, E.D., Degnan, J.J. et al. J Geod (2019) 93: 2249. https://doi.org/10.1007/s00190-018-1191-6

Modernizing and expanding the NASA Space Geodesy Network to meet future geodetic requirements, Merkowitz, S.M., Bolotin, S., Elosegui, P. et al. J Geod (2019) 93: 2263. https://doi.org/10.1007/s00190-018-1204-5

Future SLR station networks in the framework of simulated multi-technique terrestrial reference frames, Glaser, S., König, R., Neumayer, K.H. et al. J Geod (2019) 93: 2275. https://doi.org/10.1007/s00190-019-01256-8

Impact of network constraining on the terrestrial reference frame realization based on SLR observations to LAGEOS, Zajdel, R., Sośnica, K., Drożdżewski, M. et al. J Geod (2019) 93: 2293. https://doi.org/10.1007/s00190-019-01307-0

Satellite laser ranging to low Earth orbiters: orbit and network validation, Arnold, D., Montenbruck, O., Hackel, S. et al. J Geod (2019) 93: 2315. https://doi.org/10.1007/s00190-018-1140-4

Rapid response quality control service for the laser ranging tracking network, Otsubo, T., Müller, H., Pavlis, E.C. et al. J Geod (2019) 93: 2335. https://doi.org/10.1007/s00190-018-1197-0

Transitioning the NASA SLR network to Event Timing Mode for reduced systematics, improved stability and data precision, Varghese, T., Ricklefs, R.L., Pavlis, E.C. et al. J Geod (2019) 93: 2345. https://doi.org/10.1007/s00190-019-01326-x

Systematic errors in SLR data and their impact on the ILRS products, Luceri, V., Pirri, M., Rodríguez, J. et al. J Geod (2019) 93: 2357. https://doi.org/10.1007/s00190-019-01319-w

Time bias service: analysis and monitoring of satellite orbit prediction quality, Bauer, S. & Steinborn, J. J Geod (2019) 93: 2367. https://doi.org/10.1007/s00190-019-01304-3

Operating two SLR systems at the Geodetic Observatory Wettzell: from local survey to space ties, Riepl, S., Müller, H., Mähler, S. et al. J Geod (2019) 93: 2379. https://doi.org/10.1007/s00190-019-01243-z

Time and laser ranging: a window of opportunity for geodesy, navigation, and metrology, Exertier, P., Belli, A., Samain, E. et al. J Geod (2019) 93: 2389. https://doi.org/10.1007/s00190-018-1173-8

Laser and radio tracking for planetary science missions—a comparison, Dirkx, D., Procházka, I., Bauer, S. et al. J Geod (2019) 93: 2405. https://doi.org/10.1007/s00190-018-1171-x

Assessment of the impact of one-way laser ranging on orbit determination of the Lunar Reconnaissance Orbiter, Löcher, A. & Kusche, J. J Geod (2019) 93: 2421. https://doi.org/10.1007/s00190-018-1200-9

Version of a glass retroreflector satellite with a submillimeter "target error", Sokolov, A.L., Akentyev, A.S., Vasiliev, V.P. et al. J Geod (2019) 93: 2429. https://doi.org/10.1007/s00190-019-01260-y

Studies on the materials of LARES 2 satellite, Paolozzi, A., Sindoni, G., Felli, F. et al. J Geod (2019) 93: 2437. https://doi.org/10.1007/s00190-019-01316-z

2019 ILRS Technical Workshop bannerThe 2019 ILRS Technical Workshop presentations and other information now availableRelease Date: 11/06/2019 The 2019 ILRS Technical Workshop was held October 21-24, 2019 in Stuttgart, Germany. In addition, the first "SLR School" was held prior to the workshop on October 20. All abstracts, presentations, posters, and summary information from the workshop and the SLR School are available on the website:


2019 ILRS Technical Workshop bannerSLR Pioneer Certificates presented by Toshi Otsubo at the 2019 ILRS Technical WorkshopRelease Date: 11/01/2019 During the 2019 ILRS Technical Workshop, Toshi Otsubo, chair of the ILRS Governing Board, presented the "SLR Pioneer Certificate" to the following recipients:

Victor Shargorodskiy (Research-and-Production Corporation «Precision Systems and Instruments«/ Moscow, Russia)
"In recognition of his role in the building and deploying of the ROSCOSMOS SLR network"

John McK. Luck (Geoscience Australia, retired/Canberra, Australia)
"In recognition of his work in establishing SLR activities in Australia and Western Pacific Laser Tracking Network"

Carey Noll (NASA GSFC/Greenbelt MD, USA)
"In recognition of her dedication, vision and creativity in supporting all aspects of the ILRS"

At the conclusion of the workshop, a "Recognition of Appreciation" certificate was presented to:

Daniel Hampf (DLR, Stuttgart, Germany)
"In recognition of the outstanding support provided in organizing and hosting the 2019 ILRS Technical Workshop, Stuttgart, Germany"

Congratulations to the recipients!

Jason-2 satelliteThe Jason-2 mission has endedRelease Date: 10/04/2019 The Jason-2/Ocean Surface Topography Mission (OSTM), the third in a U.S.-European series of satellite missions designed to measure sea surface height, successfully ended its science mission on Oct. 1. NASA and its mission partners made the decision to end the mission after detecting deterioration in the spacecraft's power system.

Read more about the Jason-2 mission...

Photo of Jim LongPassing of James Leroy Long (1955 - 2019)Release Date: 09/30/2019 The Space Geodesy Project and the ILRS community is mourning the loss of our dear friend and colleague James Leroy Long who passed away on September 21, 2019 from prostate cancer complications.

Jim was a leader and essential contributor to the nation's space geodesy programs over the past 40 years. Jim began his career in 1978 as a Commissioned Officer within the US Department of Commerce NOAA Corps. For two years, Jim was the Party Chief for the transportable 5-meter antenna system collecting Very Long Baseline Interferometry (VLBI) data in support of the NASA Crustal Dynamics Program and the NOAA National Crustal Motion Network. These measurements led to the first measurements of continental drift. Jim also spent several years on mobile field duty for the U.S. Coast & Geodetic Survey performing precise horizontal control surveys and special project surveys. He also spent 2.5 years on board a NOAA National Ocean Service hydrographic survey ship performing horizontal and vertical control surveys, collecting hydrographic survey data for updating navigational charts, and ship board operations.

In 1984, Jim went to work for what eventually became Honeywell Technology Solutions as the Lead Civil Engineer for a multi-disciplinary group providing architectural and engineering services to the Federal Government, including NASA. He was responsible for precise geodetic surveys in support of the NASA Satellite Laser Ranging (SLR) Program, the NASA VLBI Program, as well as NOAA, USAF, and USN satellite tracking and communications stations. He was also responsible for precise geodetic surveys for installation and/or refurbishment of 9-meter unified S-band antennae at NASA STDN satellite tracking stations located all around the world.

In 2009, Jim came to GSFC as the Lead Civil Engineer in the Facilities Engineering Branch. Jim's experience and expertise in VLBI and SLR was quickly recognized by the Space Geodesy Project (SGP), so he started splitting his time between his Facilities duties and becoming the lead for the SGP Vector Tie System (VTS). Jim led the development of an automated system for monitoring the stability of a geodetic site. He successfully implemented a prototype of the system at the Goddard Geophysical and Astronomical Observatory, which is the basis for the VTS being implemented at all next-generation SGP sites. Jim's unique expertise and passion for space geodesy led him to transition full time to SGP within the Sciences and Exploration Directorate where he took on multiple roles as the VLBI Operations Manager, VTS Lead, and the Site Development Lead.

One of Jim's particularly notable accomplishments is the production of geodetic site ties for numerous NASA geodetic sites. These ties are essential for combining the measurements from the different geodetic techniques in the realizations of the International Terrestrial Reference Frame (ITRF) that is used by all Earth Observation satellites to geolocate their measurements on the Earth’s surface. The location of the origin of all of NASA's global geodetic stations on the ITRF is now known to within 1.5 mm thanks to Jim's expertise and dedication to the grueling task of global surveying. Without the precision geodetic surveys and analysis that Jim led, the quality of the ITRF would not be as good as it is today. Jim's accomplishments to geodetic site ties are internationally recognized and Jim was a critical member of the International Earth Rotation and Reference Systems Service Working Group on Site Survey and Co-location.

A memorial gathering to celebrate Jim's life will take place on Saturday, November 9, 2019 at St. Joseph Catholic Community in the Formation and Fellowship Center in Sykesville, MD from 2:30 pm – 5:30 pm. All are welcome to attend this Celebration of Life.

ILRS logoNew guidelines for proposing and planning ILRS workshops releasedRelease Date: 09/30/2019 The ILRS sponsors International Workshops on Laser Ranging (IWLR) which are typically held every two years. In addition, the ILRS organizes focused technical or specialized workshops in years between the International Workshops on Laser Ranging. Recently, the ILRS has created guidelines for the community to propose future workshops and for the ILRS in planning these workshops.

Laser ranging system at McDonaldLightning strikes the McDonald Laser Ranging Station (MLRS) in TexasRelease Date: 09/30/2019 Lightning struck the McDonald Laser Ranging Station (MLRS) in Texas on September 12, 2019 rendering it inoperable. The SGP is currently building a next generation SGSLR station next to the MLRS, and has decided to not repair the 37-year-old MLRS. The MLRS first started operating in 1982 and quickly became a premiere satellite and lunar laser ranging station. Data from this station was used for the most stringent tests of General Relativity, studies of the interior structure of the moon, and countless other geodetic and spacecraft tracking applications. The SGP looks forward to continuing the legacy of laser ranging from the McDonald Observatory and entering a new chapter with the recently completed VGOS station located just down the hill from the MLRS.

2019 Technical Workshop logo2019 ILRS Technical WorkshopRelease Date: 08/06/2019 The 2019 ILRS Technical Workshop will take place in Stuttgart, Germany, October 21-25. If you plan to attend, please register by August 15 (next Thursday) on the workshop website:


If you have any trouble registering, please send an email to ilrs.workshop@dlr.de.

If you plan to present at the workshop, we ask that you also upload your abstract as soon as possible so we can commence planning the program.

We are looking forward to seeing you all in Stuttgart!

ILRS logoResults of the 2019 Etalon-1 and -2 tracking campaign relasedRelease Date: 08/02/2019 The results from the actual data analysis of the Etalon campaign period, focusing on the EOP improvement have been collected. Data from the same timeframe in 2018 were reanalyzed in order to have results compared to exactly the same IERS C04 series.

As can be seen in this report, the additional Etalon data makes a significant difference, bringing the ILRS EOP product a lot closer to the "final" IERS series (which is ∼90% a GNSS product). The ILRS Analysis Coordinators have requested that the network do their best to increase their collection of Etalon data on a permanent basis.

Galileo satelliteGNSS Tracking StrategyRelease Date: 08/01/2019 The ILRS has been working with the IGS and other interested parties to settle on a GNSS tracking strategy that would satisfy both mission and user requirements. For some applications, users want denser tracking on a few satellites. For other applications, users want some tracking on the full complex of GNSS satellites, even if that tracking is sparse. In addition, there are also requests for focused campaigns, in particular, for tracking GNSS satellites while going through Earth shadow to study the effects of radiation pressure. We presently have over 60 GNSS satellites (GLONASS, Galileo, BeiDou) on the ILRS roster. More will be added in the near future. The total could reach nearly 100 when GPS is added in the 2024 timeframe.

The strategy that the ILRS has agreed to implement is the following:

  • GNSS tracking will continue to be prioritized with the other ILRS satellites by the standard ILRS priority scheme (by altitude and inclination);
  • Four GNSS satellites will be identified by each constellation (Galileo, GLONASS, and BeiDou) for intensive tracking, with three sectors (at least 2 normal points each) spaced widely apart over the pass. If stations cannot obtain three sectors they should try to get two sectors. These four satellites per constellation would be selected by the constellation and would have the highest priority among the GNSS satellites.
  • All of the remaining GNSS satellites would be tracked by the stations on an as time available basis; selection of targets should be determined by the stations for data yield, but stations are asked to try to diversify among all three constellations because we need some data on all three.
  • There may be some special tracking periods (e.g. satellite eclipses, etc.) that may need other scheduling.
The agreed high priority GNSS satellites are:

  • BeiDou3-M2, 3-M3, 3-M9, and 3-M10
  • Galileo-102, -202, -209, -210
  • GLONASS-131, -134, -138, and -139
The ILRS asks that you implement this new priority strategy in your tracking operation, by August 15, 2019. Please contact the ILRS CB if you have any questions.

ILRS logoUpdated data screening process at the ILRS Operations Centers (OCs) at EDC and NASARelease Date: 08/01/2019 The ILRS Operations Centers (OCs) at EDC and NASA are updating their data screening process in order to coordinate data quality control (QC) and provide feedback on data issues to the stations. Incoming data will be screened and characterized as:

  • "errors" if they will adversely impact the quality of the data and the derived data products (e.g., invalid date, invalid satellite, erroneous calibration, etc.)
  • "warnings" if the impact on the quality of the data is minor, or if there are format errors that make processing or QC evaluation more difficult.
Data that are marked as having errors will not be submitted to the ILRS Data Centers at EDC and CDDIS. Data marked as having warnings will be submitted. The plan is to forward the diagnostics to the stations on a routine basis for necessary action. Stations should address the error issues immediately. Both ILRS Operations Centers will use the same criteria for screening incoming data.

In order to streamline this procedure, some issues that may seem rather minor will need to be cleaned up in the data format to expedite data flow.

A list of the new data QC to be implemented at the OCs (categorized as errors or warnings) is attached and can be found at:


Please let us know if any of the diagnostics are not clear.

Tests have been run at the OCs on the incoming data for May 2019. We will be reaching out to individual stations with their specific results, to give a sense of what the QC will provide.

Let us know if you have any questions. It is our plan to try to get this operational by August 15, 2019.

ILRS logoStephen Merkowitz now the chair of the Missions Standing CommitteeRelease Date: 08/01/2019 Effective August 01, 2019, Stephen Merkowitz (NASA GSFC) will chair the ILRS Missions Standing Committee, with Toshi Otsubo (Hitotsubashi University and former chair) serving as co-chair.

retroreflectors on the surface of the moonReflectors placed on the moon by Apollo 11 astronauts 50 years ago continue to provide fresh lunar laser ranging dataRelease Date: 07/31/2019 Fifty years ago, Neil Armstrong, Buzz Aldrin and Michael Collins left behind arrays of prisms that reflect light back toward its source; the Apollo 14 and 15 astronauts also did so. Four telescopes at observatories in New Mexico, France, Italy and Germany fire lasers at them, measuring the time that it takes for a laser pulse to bounce off the reflectors and return to Earth. This allows the distance to be measured to within a fraction of an inch (a few millimeters), and scientists at the Jet Propulsion Laboratory analyze the results. Lunar laser ranging measurements have deepened our understanding of the dance between the Moon and Earth.


ILRS logoMichael Lefebvre, French pioneer and major actor in satellite geodesy, passes awayRelease Date: 07/26/2019 Michel Lefebvre has passed away at his home on July 21, 2019 after a long illness.

He was one of the French pioneers and a major actor in satellite geodesy.

He contributed enormously to training the researchers and engineers of today in this discipline, at the time of the formation of GRGS (Groupe de Recherche de Geodesie Spatiale), which resulted from the cooperation of research teams at CNES (Michele’s team), Meudon Observatory and others. This was also the time of international satellite observing campaigns (ISAGEX, Trapol, Medoc, etc.) in which Michel was deeply involved.

Michel always was eager to debate on new ideas, his energy and enthusiasm were incredible, which were essential to the development of our projects and our works over fifty years, also to the rising of vocations in our field. He had a strong charisma, though a warm personality, respectful of everyone’s viewpoint. His constructive spirit and creativity were striking and he was carefully listened to within national (CNES, GRGS, Bureau des Longitudes) and international (NASA, DLR, ESA) organizations.

As a leading expert, he had a prominent and determining role in the realization of the first satellite altimetry missions, especially TOPEX-Poseidon. Michel set the stage for the creation of the Laboratoire d’Etude en Geophysique et Oceanographie Spatiale (LEGOS), and had decisive actions in changing the French oceanographic community. He established the Club of Argonauts, in which oceanographers and climatologists discuss scientific and societal aspects of climate change. He also was at the origin of GODAE (Global Ocean Data Assimilation Experiment) and of Mercator Ocean (the French center for ocean predictions and analysis).

Michel has left his mark on many young people who started their career with him. They went their own way but kept good and fruitful relationship with him. His death brings back lots of memories to all of us. A strong personality has left us.

Our thoughts are with his wife Claude and their children and grandchildren.

Cover of the Journal of GeodesyJournal of Geodesy Special Issue on Laser RangingRelease Date: 07/24/2019The following peer-reviewed Journal of Geodesy articles were recently published online at the journal site. These are all part of the Special Issue on Laser Ranging which is preparation. Several more articles are in the review process and upon completion the printed version will be published.

In the meantime we invite you to peruse all of these with the latest information on Laser Ranging and the ILRS:

Information Resources Supporting Scientific Research for the International Laser Ranging Service, Noll, C.E., Ricklefs, R., Horvath, J. et al. J Geod (2018). https://doi.org/10.1007/s00190-018-1207-2

Modernizing and Expanding the NASA Space Geodesy Network to Meet Future Geodetic Requirements, Merkowitz, S.M., Bolotin, S., Elosegui, P. et al. J Geod (2018). https://doi.org/10.1007/s00190-018-1204-5

Assessment of the impact of one-way laser ranging on orbit determination of the Lunar Reconnaissance Orbiter, Löcher, A. & Kusche, J. J Geod (2018). https://doi.org/10.1007/s00190-018-1200-9

Rapid Response Quality Control Service for the Laser Ranging Tracking Network, Otsubo, T., Müller, H., Pavlis, E.C. et al. J Geod (2018). https://doi.org/10.1007/s00190-018-1197-0

The Next Generation of Satellite Laser Ranging Systems, Wilkinson, M., Schreiber, U., Procházka, I. et al. J Geod (2018). https://doi.org/10.1007/s00190-018-1196-1

NASA's Satellite Laser Ranging Systems for the 21st Century, McGarry, J.F., Hoffman, E.D., Degnan, J.J. et al. J Geod (2018). https://doi.org/10.1007/s00190-018-1191-6

Time and laser ranging: A window of opportunity for geodesy, navigation and metrology, Exertier, P., Belli, A., Samain, E. et al. J Geod (2018). https://doi.org/10.1007/s00190-018-1173-8

Laser and Radio Tracking for Planetary Science Missions - A Comparison, Dirkx, D., Procházka, I., Bauer, S. et al. J Geod (2018). https://doi.org/10.1007/s00190-018-1171-x

Satellite Laser Ranging to Low Earth Orbiters - Orbit and Network Validation, Arnold, D., Montenbruck, O., Hackel, S. et al. J Geod (2018). https://doi.org/10.1007/s00190-018-1140-4

The ILRS: Approaching 20 years and planning for the future, Pearlman, M.R., Noll, C.E., Pavlis, E.C. et al. J Geod (2019). https://doi.org/10.1007/s00190-019-01241-1

Laser geodetic satellites: a high‐accuracy scientific tool, Pearlman, M., Arnold, D., Davis, M. et al. J Geod (2019). https://doi.org/10.1007/s00190-019-01228-y

Future SLR station networks in the framework of simulated multi-technique terrestrial reference frames, Glaser, S., König, R., Neumayer, K.H. et al. J Geod (2019). https://doi.org/10.1007/s00190-019-01256-8

Operating two SLR systems at the Geodetic Observatory Wettzell: from local survey to space ties, Riepl, S., Müller, H., Mähler, S. et al. J Geod (2019). https://doi.org/10.1007/s00190-019-01243-z

Version of a glass retroreflector satellite with a submillimeter "target error", Sokolov, A.L., Akentyev, A.S., Vasiliev, V.P. et al. J Geod (2019). https://doi.org/10.1007/s00190-019-01260-y

The SAO and the CNES contributions to the International Laser Ranging Network, Pearlman, M., Brachet, G., Lefebvre, M. et al. J Geod (2019) 93: 869. https://doi.org/10.1007/s00190-018-1209-0

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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