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Proceedings Paper

Starfire optical range tracking system for the 1.5 meter telescope
Author(s): R. A. Cleis
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Paper Abstract

The Weapons Lab/ARCA has developed a 1.5 meter telescope facility at Kirtland Air Force Base, New Mexico. Capabilities include tracking celestial objects and solar illuminated artificial satellites. To eliminate scheduled maintenance and minimize "down-time" due to equipment failure, only desktop computers and common optical sensors are used for pointing, acquisition, and tracking. WL/ARCA has developed in-house all of the software for the desktop computers, a tracker, and a control system for a fast steering mirror. This paper serves as a system overview which describes the telescope, the acquisition cameras, the tracker, the steering mirror control system, the software, and examples of tracking performance.

Briefly, a Macintosh lix computer interfaces to the telescope controller, to two acquisition cameras mounted on the main telescope tube, and to an Atari ST computer which controls the tracker and steering mirror. (Fig. 1) Using available ephemeris, the Macintosh dynamically points the telescope until the desired target is seen in the acquisition cameras. Video from these cameras is digitized and displayed in a rectangle on the computer monitor. If the computer "mouse" is "clicked" on the displayed target, the software modifies the ephemeris so that the target image moves to the center and illuminates the tracker. The Macintosh then accepts measurements from the Atari and holds the target to within a few arc-seconds of the boresite of the telescope. To achieve sub-microradian tracking , the Atari also sends correction signals at 300 hz to the fast steering mirror controller which causes the mirror to reduce the remaining tracking errors.

Paper Details

Date Published: 1 September 1990
Proc. SPIE 1304, Acquisition, Tracking, and Pointing IV, (1 September 1990); doi: 10.1117/12.2322199
Show Author Affiliations
R. A. Cleis, Optical Sciences Co. (United States)

Published in SPIE Proceedings Vol. 1304:
Acquisition, Tracking, and Pointing IV
Sankaran Gowrinathan, Editor(s)

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