2020 Project News

  • MIT Haystack Observatory LogoMIT Haystack hosts the NEROC Fifth Annual Radio Science Symposium

    MIT Haystack hosted the NEROC Fifth Annual Radio Science Symposium (https://www.haystack.mit.edu/neroc2020) in fireside chat plus virtual poster format. The Northeast Radio Observatory Corporation, NEROC, is a nonprofit consortium of educational and research institutions founded in 1967 to run the Haystack 37-m radio telescope and operate Haystack Observatory; current membership comprises 12 academic institutions including MIT, Boston, Brandeis, Dartmouth, and Harvard University.

  • image of satellite pointing down at the groundPrecise Orbit Determination is a critical part of measuring sea level rise

    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 the 29=016-2019 ILRS reportPublication of the 2016-2019 ILRS Report

    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 second circular

    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 logoILRS Virtual World Tour 2020 second circular

    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 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/NRL

    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 postponed

    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 logoNy-Ålesund SGSLR dome passes Factory Acceptance Testing

    SGSLR's third dome, built for Ny-Ålesund, Norway, successfully passed the Factory Acceptance Test (FAT) at Baader Planetarium in Mammendorf Germany on 2 July 2020. Jan McGarry (NASA) and KBR team members, including Scott Wetzel and Howard Donovan, attended the FAT virtually. KBR approved the FAT and accepted the dome. Installation of the dome at Ny-Ålesund is expected to occur in September 2020.

  • ILRS logo2021 ILRS Technical/Specialty Workshop

    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.

  • Cover of geodetic infrastructure bookThe National Academies have released the report "Evolving the Geodetic Infrastructure to Meet New Scientific Needs"

    The report draws the connections between the geodetic infrastructure and science applications. A particular focus of the report is on Earth Science Decadal Survey science questions that directly depend on the geodetic infrastructure. It also describes improvements to the geodetic infrastructure needed to support future studies and Earth science missions. This document is a great resource for anyone involved in Earth observations who wants to better understand these connections and how their measurements critically rely on Space Geodesy. DOI: https://doi.org/10.17226/25579

  • Crane lifting dome on top of the shelter at MGOMGO SGSLR dome is installed and passes Site Acceptance Testing"

    The MGO SGSLR dome installation occurred January 22nd through the 25th with the Site Acceptance Testing successfully completed on the 25th. Participating in the installation was a four-person team from the manufacturer, Baader Planetarium, as well as Howard Donovan (KBR), Alice Nelson (KBR) and Jan McGarry (NASA/GSFC). Also there for this installation was Ole Klingan from the Norwegian Mapping Authority (Kartverket). Ole was on the trip to prepare for the September installation of the same type of dome at the SGSLR facility at Ny-Ålesund. Not on the trip, but critical to the planning and execution of the installation, was the KBR SGSLR manager, Scott Wetzel (KBR). The SGSLR team would like to thank the University of Texas at Austin for their continued support of the SGSLR work.

    Read more about the MGO SGSLR dome installation...

  • ILRS logoFirst announcement of the 22nd International Workshop on Laser Ranging

    First announcement of the 22nd International Workshop on Laser Ranging - 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.