• Laser ranging to the moon
    Laser Ranging to the Moon
    NGSLR, located at NASA GSFC's Goddard Geophysical and Astronomical
    Observatory (GGAO),is shown ranging to the Lunar Reconnaissance Orbiter (LRO)
    orbiting the Moon. The LRO Laser Ranging (LR) system enables the spacecraft
    to achieve its precision orbit determination requirement.
  • antenna
    VGOS, located at NASA GSFC's Goddard
    Geophysical and Astronomical Observatory
    (GGAO), is the next generation of
    geodetic VLBI systems currently
    under development.
  • Monument brace
    Drilled Brace Monument for GNSS Antenna
    The newly installed drilled brace monument for the
    Global Navigation Satellite System (GNSS) antenna at
    NASA GSFC's Goddard Geophysical and Astronomical
    Observatory (GGAO). The multi-GNSS-capable
    receiver will track signals from several GNSS including
    GPS, GLONASS, and Galileo.
    DORIS Antenna
    The Doppler Orbitography and Radio-positioning Integrated
    by Satellite (DORIS) antenna located at NASA GSFC's Goddard
    Geophysical and Astronomical Observatory (GGAO) tracks
    satellites equipped with DORIS beacons; NGSLR can be seen
    in the background.

Latest Project news

Passing of Ron Beard/NRL
photo of Ron BeardWe 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.

Read more about Ron Beard...

ILRS Workshops scheduled for 2020 and 2021 postponed
ILRS logoAs 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.

Ny-Ålesund SGSLR dome passes Factory Acceptance Testing
ILRS logoSGSLR'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.

2021 ILRS Technical/Specialty Workshop
ILRS logoThe 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.

The National Academies have released the report "Evolving the Geodetic Infrastructure to Meet New Scientific Needs"
Cover of the reportThe 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

MGO SGSLR dome is installed and passes Site Acceptance Testing
Crane lifting dome on top of the shelter at MGOThe 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...

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

MGO SGSLR shelter is built and ready to accept the dome
SGSLR shelter at MGO ready to accept domeThe MGO SGSLR shelter is built and getting ready to accept the dome. This picture shows the temporary roof covering the dome ring wall and protecting that part of the roof where the hole for the gimbal is located. Dome installation is expected at the end of January 2020.

SGP version of GEODYN software now publicly available.
SGP logoThe SGP is making available to the public a version of the GEODYN orbit determination and geodetic parameter estimation software tool. A full description of the software and download options are available here:


Journal of Geodesy "Special Issue: Satellite Laser Ranging" now published
Cover of the Journal of GeodesyThe 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.

View the list of papers and authors

Read all news

Using Quasars to Measure the Earth: A Brief History of VLBI
Looking Down a Well: A Brief History of Geodesy