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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.

Dan O'Gara retired after 37 years of dedicated support to the International Geodetic Community Release Date: 05/12/2021 The International Laser Ranging Service (ILRS) and the NASA Space Geodesy Project (SGP) express our appreciation and congratulations to Dan O'Gara for his 37 years of service to the international geodetic community. Dan retired from the University of Hawaii (UH) on April 30, 2021.

Much of Dan O'Gara's work at UH was with the Lunar Ranging Experiment (LURE) observatory. The University of Hawaii's LURE was installed on Haleakala in 1973. Dan joined the team in the early 1980s, performing maintenance and developing the software to control the LURE beam director and operating the system. The station became known as HOLLAS by the ILRS community as it gained the capability to track satellites and took on the 4-character code of HALL (for Haleakala Laser), but the locals always referred to it as LURE. Dan eventually became the station manager for LURE while he continued to develop the software and operate the system.

See https://ilrs.gsfc.nasa.gov/network/stations/inactive/HALL_station_info.html and http://koa.ifa.hawaii.edu/Lure/#:~:text=The%20Lure%20Observatory%20is%20located,Maui%20in%20the%20Hawaiian%20archipelago.&text=The%20Lunar%20Ranging%20Experiment%20(LURE,and%20reflectors%20on%20the%20Moon

The LURE facility was decommissioned in 1990 to make room for another experiment. In 2006, NASA installed the TLRS-4 Satellite Laser Ranging station at a different location on the top of the mountain. Dan continued his work as station manager, operator, and laser ranging software expert for TLRS-4.

Dan is well known and liked by everyone in the ILRS and SGP. He continued his interest in the lunar community even after the UH lunar laser ranging program ended. He participated in multiple ILRS Workshops including the Workshop in Annapolis which celebrated the 50th anniversary of SLR. He hosted numerous site visits to Haleakala by many groups and supported the Space Geodesy Project's preliminary work to deploy a next generation SLR station and new GNSS stations on the top of Haleakala, helping the SGP team find a good location for the new SLR system and supporting the team's site visit in 2015.

The Maui SLR stations have played a critical role in the international SLR network by covering satellite tracking over the Pacific. The station team under the leadership and management of Dan O'Gara has done a great job. His calm demeanor and sense of humor has been much appreciated.

Dan was the face of Hawaii laser ranging for many decades. He will be greatly missed by his colleagues and friends in the Space Geodesy Project and the International Laser Ranging Service. We wish Dan a healthy and happy retirement, and great success in his future plans!

group photo with Dan O'Gara in the center

Dan O'Gara, featured at the center of the picture, accompanied by SGP folks during a site visit in 2015. From left to right: Jan McGarry, Stephen Merkowitz, Dan O'Gara, Jim Long, Scott Wetzel, and David Stowers. (Photo credit: Scott Wetzel)

ILRS logoILRS Workshops Cancelled/Postponed Release Date: 04/09/2021 Dear Colleagues,

In view of the continued threat of the current pandemic, the ILRS and the members of the Kunmimg Station have decided that it would be best to postpone the 22nd International Workshop on Laser Ranging until 2022. We know that it is a disappointment to skip another year, but we really have no choice. The date for the 2022 workshop at Kunming, China has yet to be decided.

Plans are being formulated to have another program of virtual station tours, with perhaps some talks on pertinent ILRS subjects in late 2021, in place of the workshop.

As a consequence, the Technical Workshop scheduled for Arequipa, Peru will also be postponed another year, until 2023.

We thank both the Kunming and Arequipa teams for their patience and preparation to date. We know that both workshops will be great successes.

Looking on the bright side, our community should have much to report when these workshops are finally held.

We hope that you and your community will continue to act in safety.

With best wishes,

Mike Pearlman
Director, ILRS Central Bureau

ILRS logoNew Software for ILRS Station Plots Release Date: 02/05/2021 The ILRS has been generating global report cards monthly including meteorological data, LAGEOS performance, and satellite data information. The software to create these plots have been recently upgraded through the efforts of the Station Plots Working Group, formulated by the ILRS Central Bureau in 2020. The start date of the new charts begin in 2012/05, when the CRD format was released.

With this upgrade, some plots were combined and additions were made. For more information on the changes made to the report cards, please see: With this upgrade, some plots were combined and additions were made. For more information on the changes made to the report cards, please see the Overview of Station Plots page.

If you notice any discrepancies on a webpage please feel free to contact us at support-cddis@earthdata.nasa.gov.

Hayabusa2 logoTwo-way ranging to the Hayabusa 2 spacecraft is succesfulRelease Date: 02/05/2021 In JAXA's press conference on 4 Feb 2021, Prof Takahide Mizuno of JAXA and Prof Toshimichi Otsubo of Hitotsubashi University announced the success of two-way ranging to the Hayabusa 2 spacecraft. During the post-flyby period in December 2020, a two-way link was established with Grasse, and one-way links were confirmed with Koganei and Mt Stromlo.

Read the results of the experiment...

image of a satellite pointing at the groundPrecise Orbit Determination is a critical part of measuring sea level riseRelease Date: 11/15/2020 Precise Orbit Determination (POD) is a geodetic technique that enables knowing the exact position of a satellite above a stable reference point on Earth. Determining the exact position of the satellite when an observation is acquired is crucial in measuring sea level height. As noted by Dr. Frank Lemoine, a geodesist with NASA's Space Geodesy Project and a member of NASA's Ocean Surface Topography science team, "If you don’t do POD right, you're not going to get any sea level results."

Read the full article on nasa.gov...

Cover of 2016-2019 ILRS reportPublication of the 2016-2019 ILRS ReportRelease Date: 11/03/2020 The ILRS is pleased to announce the publication of the 2016-2019 ILRS Report, the seventh published volume for the International Laser Ranging Service (ILRS). This publication once again concentrates on achievements and work in progress. This 2016-2019 ILRS Technical Report is available through the ILRS website at URL:


The ILRS would like to thank all contributors to this latest issue.

ILRS logoILRS Virtual World Tour 2020 third circularRelease Date: 10/13/2020 Registration for the virtual tours is now open. Attendance for each session will be limited to 250 connections and will be available on a first come, first served basis. We encourage group attendance where possible; only one person is required to register for the group. Interested parties can register at:


Attendees are required to register for each session they plan to attend. There is no fee for registering and attending any of the tours. Registration will be closed on October 26, 2020.

ILRS logoNew ILRS AACRelease Date: 09/29/2020 The Instituto Geográfico Nacional, Observatorio de Yebes (IGN Yebes) in Spain, has been accepted as a new ILRS AAC under the direction of Dr. José Rodríguez. The group will focus on providing CoG values for spherical geodetic satellites.

ILRS logoILRS Virtual World Tour 2020 second circularRelease Date: 09/25/2020 In place of the planned Workshop this November, the ILRS wanted to take the opportunity to try something different and look in detail at a selection of stations in the global network. The online 'Virtual World Tour', to be held November 2-6, 2020, will visit 5 stations in 5 days, stopping at:

  • Graz, Austria
  • Greenbelt MD, USA
  • Simosato, Japan
  • Yarragadee, Australia
  • Zimmerwald, Switzerland
Each two-hour session will consist of an introductory presentation about the station followed by a tour of the site highlighting instrumentation, software, safety, automation, operations, as well as current issues and future plans. These tours will include a mixture of pre-recorded and live presentations with an opportunity for questions.

More information about the workshop can be found on the website:


and in the second circular.

ILRS logoILRS Virtual World Tour 2020Release Date: 09/02/2020 In place of an ILRS Workshop this November, the ILRS wanted to take the opportunity to try something different and look in detail at a selection of stations in the global network. Therefore, the ILRS is planning an online 'Virtual World Tour', to be held November 2-6, 2020, to virtually visit 5 stations around the world in 5 days. To learn more about the event please visit the workshop website: https://cddis.nasa.gov/ILRS_Virtual_World_Tour_2020/index.html

Photo of Ron BeardPassing of Ron Beard/NRLRelease Date: 07/22/2020 We are sad to report the recent passing of Ron Beard. Ron Beard was the past Head of the Advanced Space PNT Branch (formerly the Space Applications Branch) at the Naval Research Laboratory (NRL) where he has made significant contributions to the generation and dissemination of precise time from space over the course of his 50-year career.

Mr. Beard joined the Navy and later NRL as the DoD was beginning to explore new concepts for a second-generation satellite-based navigation system. At NRL he worked for Roger Easton, who proposed "passive ranging" from satellites with synchronized clocks in what became the TIMATION project. There was very limited experience with precise clocks in the space environment during those early days.

From 1968-1971, he was the Project Officer for Navigation Satellites in the Naval Air Systems Command's Astronautics Division and was the TIMATION project officer. In 1971 he joined the NRL and their early GPS development (1971-1979) as the project scientist in the NRL's GPS Program Office that developed Navigation Technology Satellites One and Two and operated the first atomic clocks in space. From 1979- 1983, he was the Deputy Project Manager for the Naval Space Surveillance System Modernization Program. From 1983 until 2004 he was the Program Manager of the NRL NAVSTAR GPS Clock Development Program that developed alternative sources of space qualified atomic clocks and hydrogen masers for the GPS program. He was the originator and principal investigator for the Laser Retro-Reflector Experiment, included as secondary payload on NAVSTAR 35 and 36 satellites to investigate clock and orbit error separation. Mr. Beard was a longtime advocate for hosting retroreflectors on GPS III satellites, and has been a key member of the NRL-NGA-NASA GPS Laser Retroreflector Array team.

Mr. Beard has participated in numerous technical groups including the Air Force Scientific Advisory Board Study Group into Global Air Navigation, Navy representative on Project Reliance Frequency Control Panel, Head of the DoD PNT Focus Team for Space Technology, past chair of the ITU-R Special Rapporteur Group on the future of the UTC Time Scale, and served as International Chair of the ITU-R Working Party 7A, Precise Time and Frequency Broadcast Services. He has authored or coauthored over 50 papers, including a dozen papers presented at various ION meetings. He has been an organizer of the Annual PTTI conference and the Joint Navigation Conference, and has served as a Government Liaison to the ION's Military Division. He was selected as an ION Fellow in 2013.

Condolences may be shared with Ron's longtime colleague and friend, Dr. Ken Senior, at ken.senior@nrl.navy.mil

From: https://www.ion.org/awards/2013-ionfellow-beard.cfm and Linda Thomas/NRL

ILRS logoILRS workshops scheduled for 2020 and 2021 postponedRelease Date: 07/14/2020 As the ILRS community continues to deal with the impacts from the global coronavirus outbreak, the ILRS and the local organizers in Kunming have concluded that it is no longer possible to hold the 22nd International Workshop on Laser Ranging in October 2020 as planned. The ILRS Governing Board, in consultation with our colleagues in Kunming, has decided that we will delay this workshop until the fall of 2021; final dates for the event will be announced soon. Furthermore, the ILRS and UNSA will postpone the next ILRS Technical/Specialty Workshop, to be held in Arequipa Peru, until the fall of 2022.

We will keep the community informed of additional details as soon as practical.

ILRS logoChange to location of POS+EOP products in the CDDIS archiveRelease Date: 05/13/2020 The ILRS DCs have updated the archive location of the pos+eop products. Until today, the current year's products were archived in daily subdirectories at /slr/products/pos+eop/YYMMDD/. Beginning today, May 13, 2020, the products are now archived at /slr/products/pos+eop/YYYY/YYMMDD/.

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!

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