The History of TIGO

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The German Research Group on Satellite Geodesy (Forschungsgruppe Satellitengeodäsie, (FGS) proposed in its Research Program 1990-95 the development of a Mobile Integrated Geodetic Measuring Platform. The then Institute for Applied Geodesy (Institut für Angewandte Geodäsie, IfAG) and todays Federal Agency for Cartography and Geodesy (Bundesamt für Kartographie und Geodäsie, (BKG) obtained the sum of 25 million DM (approx. 12.5 million Euro) distributed over 1992-97 for the development and testing of a Transportable Integrated Geodetic Observatory (TIGO).

The rough concept of TIGO was developed at the Fundamental Station Wettzell in 1992. Consequently the first contracts for the large instruments radiotelescope for VLBI-measurements and laser ranging system for SLR-measurements had been made. One new design criteria consisted in the housing of all of the components in 40ft standard container to realize maximum transportability. The containers had to transform after arriving at their destination easily into operation rooms. In 1994 IfAG contracted two project engineers with the responsibility for the continuation of the development, integration and testing of components. During the five years period of development occured some delays due to the transition from IFAG to BKG and due to renouncement of a subcontractor for the SLR-system. In 1999 a third staff was assigned to the TIGO project in order to finish the last developments at the SLR-system.

In June 1999 the TIGO components had passed the tests successfully, which allowed for an international advertising about TIGO. Applications from Brazil, Argentina, Chile, India, Philippine and Indonesia demonstrated interest to receive TIGO. In the end of 1999 the 12 proposed sites in the six countries had been inspected.


On January 21, 2000, the FGS took the decision to operate, TIGO in Concepción, Chile, for two decisive reasons:

1.Concepción was the most southern proposed location which densified and complemented the network of geodetic observatories in an optimal way.
2. The Chilean consortium consisting of Universidad de Concepción (UdeC), Universidad del Bío Bío (UBB), Universidad Católica de la Santísima Concepción (UCSC) and the Instituto Geográfico Militar (IGM) was in the position to fulfill the expectations of BKG regarding the availability of staff and infrastructure for TIGO.

TIGO Infrastructure

In the years 2000 and 2001 the preparations for the operation of TIGO in Concepción were carried out. One task was to generate a bilateral note exchange between the Federal Republic of Germany and the Republic of Chile in which legal problems due to property on TIGO and the staffing were resolved. This diplomatic note became Chilean law as Decree 489 from November 29, 2001. A second task consisted in the construction of an access way to the selected site for TIGO in the hilly surroundings of Concepcion and in the construction of an adequate platform for the TIGO instruments and containers.

In parallel to those activities, four future Chilean staff had been invited to Wettzell for a first training.

In the end of 2001 the preparation had been finished in Chile. The 2.5 km long access road was suitable for container transportation, the platform with its monuments for instruments were finished and also the infrastructure with electricity, communications, water and suage had been realised.

During October/November 2001 TIGO was disassembled and prepared for overseas transportation. On December 6, 2001, the containers arrived at the harbour of Hamburg and left from there destined for Concepción.

TIGO Arrived

After five weeks of travelling, passing through Panama, TIGO arrived on January 11, 2002, at the harbour of Lirquén near Concepción. Within the next two days the containers had been brought to the platform at UdeC.

During the coming four months the instruments had been unpacked and installed. The connection to electricity and communication networks was realised. In parallel a small house with four offices, a small conference room, a room for the guard, a kitchen and toilets with shower was erected.

End of April/beginning of May 2002 the first measurements for the international services IVS and ILRS had been made. In June 2002 the GPS-permanent station CONZ became part of the IGS. After half a year of evaluation by the BIPM, TIGO was acknowledged for the time keeping service of Universal Time (UT). Hence before the end of the first year of operation, TIGO met its goal: to be part of a global infrastructure realising measurements for international services


In December 2002 followed the installation of the superconducting gravity meter. After one year of operation it was acknowledged as a network station by the Global Geodynamics Project (GGP).

On January 15, 2003, the Geodetic Observatory TIGO, was inaugurated officially by a ceremony. Hereby participated the Intendente (regional president) Toha, the Commander in Chief of the Chilean Army, General Cheyre, the rectors of the participating universities Lavanchy, Hernandez, Jimenez, as well as the representative of the German Ministery of Interior Rosen, the representative of the German Embassy in Chile Schäfer and the president of BKG Gränreich.

The first period of the cooperation 2002-04 was judged to be very successful for which reason the renewal of a three years period 2005-2007 had been approved by the Directing Board of TIGO in 2003.

At the end of 2004 the UCSC left the TIGO consortium.

From January 9-13, 2006, UdeC together with TIGO hosted the 4th General Meetings of the IVS with the title " "Next Generation VLBI2010".

Meeting Poster