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“Teide Observatory”
New Laser Station Lights the Way to Debris Reduction
ESA’s IZN-1 laser ranging station on top of the Izaña mountain in Tenerife, Spain. (Credit: ESA)

TENERIFE, Spain (ESA PR) — ESA’s Izaña-1 laser ranging station in Tenerife, Spain, has recently undergone months of testing and commissioning, passing its final tests with flying colours. As it reached ‘station acceptance’, it was handed over to ESA from the German company contracted to build it, DiGOS. The station is a technology testbed and a vital first step in making debris mitigation widely accessible to all space actors with a say in the future of our space environment.

  • Parabolic Arc
  • February 23, 2022
First Laser Detection of Space Debris in Daylight
A visible green laser shone from ESA’s Optical Ground Station (OGS). Part of Teide Observatory, the OGS located 2400 m above sea level on the volcanic island of Tenerife, used for the development of optical communication systems for space as well as space debris and near-Earth orbject surveys and quantum communication experiments. (Credit: IAC– Daniel López)

Lasers on Earth are used to measure the position of space debris high above, providing crucial information on how to avoid in-space collisions. Until now, this technique has suffered from a fatal flaw.

For some time, lasers could only be used to measure the distance to space debris during the few twilight hours in which the ‘laser ranging’ station on Earth is in darkness, but debris objects high above are still bathing in the last of the Sun’s rays.

  • Parabolic Arc
  • August 5, 2020