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 logoCDDIS Computer System Outage will affect ILRS websiteRelease Date: 11/15/2017CDDIS must undergo an unplanned outage on 16-Nov-2017 from 14:00-18:00 EST (19:00–22:00 UTC) to replace critical system hardware. Because the ILRS website is hosted on the CDDIS server, there may be extended interruptions in connectivity to the ILRS website during this period. We expect that the system outage will not require the full 4 hours but have allocated time to address any unforeseen issues.

We apologize for any inconvenience these outages may cause the user community.

GRACE satellitesGRACE mission ends science operationsRelease Date: 10/27/2017After more than 15 productive years in orbit, the U.S./German GRACE (Gravity Recovery and Climate Experiment) satellite mission has ended science operations. During their mission, the twin GRACE satellites have provided unprecedented insights into how our planet is changing by tracking the continuous movement of liquid water, ice and the solid Earth.


ILRS logoInterruptions in network connectivity to ILRS websiteRelease Date: 10/27/2017The CDDIS network will undergo maintenance on Tuesday, October 31, 2017 between 15:00 - 19:00 UTC. Because the ILRS website is hosted on the CDDIS server, there may be extended interruptions in connectivity to the ILRS website during this maintenance period but we expect only short 5-10 minute outages during the timeframe.

We apologize for any inconvenience these outages may cause the user community.

GRACE satelliteGRACE-B to be decommissionedRelease Date: 09/11/2017After over 15 years of successful operations, the GRACE-B satellite will be decommissioned due to battery and fuel problems. The community was pleased to contribute to this exciting mission and looks forward to future collaborations on future gravity missions such as the GRACE Follow-On (GRACE-FO) mission.

Charles The passing of Charles "Chuck" LundquistRelease Date: 08/24/2017The SLR community is sad to report that Charles (Chuck) Lundquist passed away on June 3, 2017. Chuck was at the Smithsonian Astrophysical Observatory in the 1960s and, as Associate Director for Science, helped guide the Satellite Tracking Program that was a forerunner of our current space geodesy program. He was a very strong advocate of both Satellite Laser Ranging and VLBI, and in general, greatly encouraged international programs. Some of you may recall meeting Chuck at the International Workshop on Laser Ranging in Annapolis a few years ago and hearing some of the fascinating stories about the early space program. More about Chuck’s career can be found in his published obituary.

ILRS logo2017 ILRS Technical Workshop: Second circularRelease Date: 07/21/2017The Institute of Astronomy at the University of Latvia and the International Laser Ranging Service (ILRS) will host the 2017 ILRS Technical Workshop on October 02 through 05, 2017 in Riga, Latvia. The second circular, containing important information about upcoming deadlines, is now available. The first circular for the workshop was issued in February 2017 and contains information about the workshop topics.

Cover of the Journal of GeodesyPrinted version of the Journal of Geodesy Special Issue on VLBI now availableRelease Date: 06/21/2017The printed version of the Journal of Geodesy Special Issue on VLBI: Journal of Geodesy, Volume 91, Issue 7, July 2017, is now available at This volume includes a Preface and 14 scientific articles devoted to various aspects of the VLBI theory, methodology and data analysis.

ILRS logoILRS approves new network application form and policyRelease Date: 06/14/2017The ILRS has approved a new policy and application form for new stations to join the ILRS network.

Satellite laser ranging at GSFC.Innovation column in GPS World discusses importance of laser ranging to GNSS satellitesRelease Date: 05/25/2017In the May 2017 Innovation column of GPS World, author Urs Hugentobler discusses the importance of laser ranging to GNSS satellites for improvement in modeling the orbits of these satellites. Better GNSS satellite orbits result in better receiver position accuracies, which are required to improve monitoring of Earth processes.

NRK TV (Norway) features the need for a precise Terrestrial Reference Frame, and discusses role of NASA and the Space Geodesy ProgramRelease Date: 04/14/2017NRK TV in Norway has published a video feature (in Norwegian) discussing the importance,and challenges of global cooperation in making precise measurements to support the maintenance of an international terrestrial reference frame necessary for natural hazard and global change studies. The video also discusses the future plans for cooperation with NASA in the construction of the geodetic station in Ny Alesund. The video features interviews (in English) with SGP Manager Stephen Merkowitz (Code 61A @ NASA GSFC; time index 5:26, 8:45, 10:20) and colleagues Hayo Hase (AGGO, La Plata Argentina ; time index 11:14 20:07) Ludwig Combrinck (HartRAO, South Africa; time index 6:24, 17:24); Per Erik Opseth, Laila Lovhoiden, Gary Johnston (Geoscience Australia, time index 20:53, 23:05), and others, as well as a visit to NASA GSFC and GGAO. The full URL for the television program is:

NASA logoUpcoming maintenance on CDDIS and ILRS email explodersRelease Date: 04/14/2017The NASA system used for CDDIS and ILRS email exploders will be undergoing maintenance from 13:00 - 17:00 UTC on April 23.

ILRS logo ILRS 2017 Technical Workshop: First circularRelease Date: 03/29/2017The Institute of Astronomy at the University of Latvia and the International Laser Ranging Service (ILRS) will host the 2017 ILRS Technical Workshop on October 02 through 05, 2017 in Riga, Latvia. The program committee for the 2017 ILRS Technical Workshop, to be held in Riga Latvia, October 02-05, 2017, has issued the meeting’s first circular. The workshop will have four sessions held over four days.

The workshop sessions will be focused on:

  • What are the current and anticipated laser ranging requirements for the various satellites and have we defined them properly?
  • How do we evaluate our current performance and is it adequate?
  • What factors are currently limiting our network performance?
  • What operational steps and tools would help us to better meet satellite ranging accuracy and scheduling requirements?
  • What automation capabilities have been implemented or are planned for implementation, and what automation capabilities should stations consider?

illustration of SpinSat satelliteSpinSat re-enters Earth's atmosphereRelease Date: 03/22/2017NRL/Jake Griffiths has informed the ILRS that SpinSat re-entered late on March 11, 2017. The last track of the satellite was received that day at 22:39 UTC from a Space Surveillance Network station located in the UK. NRL has expressed its gratitude to the ILRS for supporting the mission.

ILRS logoNew ILRS AAC at IGIGRelease Date: 03/22/2017The ILRS is pleased to welcome the Wroclaw University of Enviromental and Life Sciences (WUELS), Institute of Geodesy and Geoinformatics (IGIG) as an ILRS Associate Analysis Center (AAC). Krzysztof Sosnica’s group at the Institute is generating scientific products based on the SLR observations to new GNSS systems on the operational basis. IGIG generates daily reports that include a comparison between IGS MGEX orbits of GLONASS, Galileo, BeiDou MEO, BeiDou IGSO and QZSS satellites and SLR observations collected by a global network of ILRS stations.

ILRS logoILRS survey of user tracking needsRelease Date: 03/21/2017Many stations in the ILRS network are nearly saturated in their tracking schedule. The ILRS is presently assessing its tracking needs to try to maximize its utility. We recently sent out an email to various ILRS users and groups to ask for user needs. If you want your needs to be considered, and did not receive an email invitation, please send an email to Erricos Pavlis (epavlis @ Once we compile the results, the ILRS plans to make revisions to its tracking list based on users needs. Therefore, user input is critical. The survey should not take you more than 5-10 minutes to complete, depending on your level of involvement with SLR data. Thank you for supporting the ILRS!

Russian SLR at Hart RAORussian satellite laser and radio ranging system has officially been inaugurated in South AfricaRelease Date: 03/07/2017A new SLR station has recently been installed at the Hartebeesthoek Radio Astronomy Observatory (HartRAO). The system was designed, produced and installed by JC <<RPC <<PSI>>. An opening ceremony, led by the Russian State Space Corporation (Roscosmos), was held on February 27, 2017 and attended by representatives from both Russia and South Africa; more information about the system and the dedication is available (in English) from the HartRAO website and the South African Department of Science and Technology.

US Space Command emblemDesignation "NORAD ID" changed to "Satellite Catalog Number"Release Date: 01/11/2017The ILRS, and other groups, have used the term "NORAD ID" for the sequential, 5-digit number assigned to satellite missions after launch. This designation was previously assigned and maintained by NORAD (North American Aerospace Defense Command). The assignment is now performed by The United States Space Command (USSPACECOM); therefore, the designation NORAD ID has been changed to the Satellite Catalog Number on the ILRS mission pages and lists.

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