Project News

  • ILRS logo2019 ILRS Technical Workshop first circular released

    The first circular for the 2019 ILRS Technical Workshop has been released. The workshop will take place October 21-25 in Stuttgart, Germany.

  • Team photo of the Baader and SGSLR teams in the domeSite Acceptance Test (SAT) for SGSLR Dome @ GGAO Successful

    The dome Site Acceptance Test (SAT) was performed Friday morning May 3rd and it was successful.

    Read the SGSLR @ GGAO blog.

  • SGSLR shelter at GGAO with dome installedDome for the SGSLR shelter at GGAO installed

    The dome for the new SGSLR shelter building at GGAO was assembled by the Baader Planetarium team in the GGAO parking lot. Once the dome was built, on May 1st a crane arrived to perform the lifting. The dome ring, followed by the dome itself, were lifted and installed on the roof.

    See more photos on the SGSLR @ GGAO blog.

    the shelter before the dome was installed.the shelter after the dome was installed

  • SGSLRJan McGarry gives SGSLR presentation to GSFC Astronomy Club

    Jan 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 restored

    A 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.

  • VLBI antenna at McDonald ObservatoryNew MGO VLBI Antenna Passes Site Acceptance Test

    Intertronic Solutions Inc. completed the installation of the Space Geodesy Project’s new 12-meter VLBI antenna at the McDonald Observatory in Texas. An engineering room-temperature feed, developed and installed by MIT Haystack, was used to support the pointing tests. On February 15, 2019 several extragalactic sources were observed and the antenna successfully passed the Site Acceptance Test (SAT) on February 20, 2019. The MIT Haystack-developed cryogenic broadband signal chain will be installed in April after which the station will be ready to begin commissioning and participating in VGOS test sessions.

    DORIS antenna in the foreground with VLBI antenna in the backgroundThe rear side of the VLBI antenna on its mount with a few people standing around it.The underside of the VLBI antenna with a person in a left near the top.

  • Observatory at HaleakalaTLRS-4 at Haleakala without power

    A 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 logoPlanning for the 2019 ILRS Technical Workshop has begun

    Planning 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!

  • Laser beam pointing at moonLunar Laser Ranging featured on the "Today" show

    NBC Sunday Today recently reported on lunar laser ranging activities at the APOLLO system in Sunspot NM.

  • Richard BiancaleThe Passing of Richard Biancale

    It 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)