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Laser Ranging Data Essential to Russian GLONASS System Dries Up After Attack on Ukraine

Volunteers supplying the laser ranging data needed to maintain the accuracy of Russia’s GLONASS system have largely stopped sending measurements since the attack on Ukraine, according to the governing board of the International Laser Ranging Service.

“Our ILRS members, through a combination of stations no longer observing GLONASS satellites, and stations and Data Centers withholding and archiving data, have essentially halted the flow of GLONASS data since the beginning of March,” the ILRS Governing Board said in an April 19 email to its members shared with Navigation Outlook.

That data, which is gathered and submitted for free by ILRS members, is essential to the long-term accuracy of the GLONASS service, said Daniel Kucharski, a space scientist with 18 years of expertise in satellite laser ranging and an ILRS member since 2005. ILRS collects, validates and distributes the laser ranging data supplied by its volunteer members and provides support and international coordination.