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Proceedings Paper

Automated tracking for advanced satellite laser ranging systems
Author(s): Jan F. McGarry; John J. Degnan; Paul James Titterton; Harold E. Sweeney; Brion P. Conklin; Peter J. Dunn
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Paper Abstract

NASA's Satellite Laser Ranging Network was originally developed during the 1970's to track satellites carrying corner cube reflectors. Today eight NASA systems, achieving millimeter ranging precision, are part of a global network of more than 40 stations that track 17 international satellites. To meet the tracking demands of a steadily growing satellite constellation within existing resources, NASA is embarking on a major automation program. While manpower on the current systems will be reduced to a single operator, the fully automated SLR2000 system is being designed to operate for months without human intervention. Because SLR2000 must be eyesafe and operate in daylight, tracking is often performed in a low probability of detection and high noise environment. The goal is to automatically select the satellite, setup the tracking and ranging hardware, verify acquisition, and close the tracking loop to optimize data yield. TO accomplish the autotracking tasks, we are investigating (1) improved satellite force models, (2) more frequent updates of orbital ephemerides, (3) lunar laser ranging data processing techniques to distinguish satellite returns from noise, and (4) angular detection and search techniques to acquire the satellite. A Monte Carlo simulator has been developed to allow optimization of the autotracking algorithms by modeling the relevant system errors and then checking performance against system truth. A combination of simulator and preliminary field results will be presented.

Paper Details

Date Published: 7 June 1996
PDF: 15 pages
Proc. SPIE 2739, Acquisition, Tracking, and Pointing X, (7 June 1996); doi: 10.1117/12.241945
Show Author Affiliations
Jan F. McGarry, NASA Goddard Space Flight Ctr. (United States)
John J. Degnan, NASA Goddard Space Flight Ctr. (United States)
Paul James Titterton, Electro-Optics Organization, Inc. (United States)
Harold E. Sweeney, Electro-Optics Organization, Inc. (United States)
Brion P. Conklin, AlliedSignal Technical Services (United States)
Peter J. Dunn, Hughes STX (United States)


Published in SPIE Proceedings Vol. 2739:
Acquisition, Tracking, and Pointing X
Michael K. Masten; Larry A. Stockum, Editor(s)

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