Institute of Astronomy (former Astronomical Observatory of the University of Latvia) is participating in satellite observations and instrumentation design since the launch of the first artificial Earth satellite on October 4, 1957. Institute staff has designed a range of satellite tracking equipment including optical, photographic and laser systems.  Institute of Astronomy is running a satellite laser ranging (SLR) system and a permanent GPS station. SLR station is a member of the International Laser Ranging Service (ILRS) and Eurolas. Permanent GPS station (RIGA_12302M002) is a member of the International GPS service (IGS) and EUREF permanent GPS network EPN. The SLR station (ILRS code name “1884 Riga”) is capable of day and night observations and measurement of distances to the satellites in the range from 400 to 28,000 km with single shot accuracy around few cm, depending on the range and satellite signature.  

The SLR system uses its satellite ranging system LS-105, designed  in the Institute of Astronomy, which is operating permanently since 1987.  The high accuracy SLR and GPS observations made by the Institute of Astronomy is the basis of the Latvian National geodetic coordinate system LKS-92 and ties it to the ITRF  and EUREF international reference frames. The produced data are included in the yearly data sets which are used by the scientific community and the space agencies. The research is concentrated on SLR-related activities: design and testing of new equipment, data analysis, algorithms and software for the tracking objects in the vicinity of the Earth.

Video of Fundamental Geodynamic Station:

Salmins, K., del Pino, J., Advances in Geodynamical Research, in Abstract book, The 3rd International Conference FOTONIKA-LV “Achievements and Future Prospects”, Riga, 24–25 April 2019, pp. 30-31; open access [pdf].

On recent project implemeted at Fundamental Geodynamic Station: