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SERC satellites offering research opportunities for ILRS members

Researchers from the Space Environment Research Centre (SERC) will attend the 20th International Workshop on Laser Ranging (IWSLR) in Potsdam, Germany from 9-14 October 2016. This workshop is the world’s leading event devoted to space laser ranging and space debris tracking. Five SERC researchers have been invited to present papers on laser technology advances, advancements in retroreflector arrays and their modelling and laser tracking of space debris.

The IWSLR is a bi-annual event for members of the International Laser Ranging Service (ILRS). Delegates are drawn from leading space agencies, space research centres and key thought leaders in space laser tracking.

At a previous ILRS conference SERC successfully bid for the 21st IWSLR to be held in Canberra, Australia in late 2018. This successful bid will result in around 200 international space and laser ranging experts congregating in Canberra for the event.

SERC Chief Executive Officer, Dr Ben Greene will attend the Potsdam workshop to present a paper titled “On-orbit Calibration of Laser Beam Intensity”. Dr Greene will also announce that SERC is to launch two satellites to measure the actual photon pressure achieved by ground-based lasers.  SERC and other research agencies are seeking to demonstrate that debris can be moved by ground based lasers, but until now there has been no means of measuring the forces achieved on orbit.

Moving space debris with lasers has never been done before and if achieved would be a leap forward in the quest limit the mounting threat of space debris to space based infrastructure.  It is estimated that around 300,000 pieces of man-made space debris are currently orbiting the earth and endangering vital space infrastructure.

Dr Greene will make an Announcement of Opportunity (AO) during the workshop, inviting expressions of interest from ILRS members to calibrate their lasers using sensors on SERC satellites.