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Proceedings Paper

Real-time ground-based optical detection system for space debris
Author(s): Jonathan Marchant; Simon Green; James Dick
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Paper Abstract

There are many advantages to supplementing ground based radar debris detection systems with optical systems. For example: objects with a low radar signature can still be optically bright (and vice versa); in the field of space debris optical detection is less sensitive to range; the minimum detectable debris size for a given range is less than that for radar. Destructive debris can be as small as 1 cm, so any improvement in detection sensitivity towards this standard is important. To improve the accuracy of debris orbital elements, a real-time detection system might be preferable in contrast to one in which images are stored for post-observation ('daytime') analysis. This is because more than one telescope is needed to lengthen the observing baseline and so increase the detected fraction of the debris orbit. Therefore, any software based at one telescope that recognizes debris in its field of view, produces a first approximation of its orbit elements and alerts extra telescopes along track, must process its data quickly, and preferably during the same pass. A prototype of such a software system under development for use with a CCD camera at the Royal Greenwich Observatory's satellite laser ranger at Herstmonceux, East Sussex, England, is outlined. The methods which the detection algorithm employs to handle data from the camera system are described, along with the limitations that the hardware and processing time impose on the physical nature of the problem.

Paper Details

Date Published: 31 October 1996
PDF: 10 pages
Proc. SPIE 2813, Characteristics and Consequences of Orbital Debris and Natural Space Impactors, (31 October 1996); doi: 10.1117/12.256066
Show Author Affiliations
Jonathan Marchant, Univ. of Kent at Canterbury (United Kingdom)
Simon Green, Univ. of Kent at Canterbury (United Kingdom)
James Dick, Royal Greenwich Observatory (United Kingdom)


Published in SPIE Proceedings Vol. 2813:
Characteristics and Consequences of Orbital Debris and Natural Space Impactors
Timothy D. Maclay; Firooz A. Allahdadi, Editor(s)

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