Use of light curve inversion for non-resolved optical detection of satellites performing on orbit servicing in the presence of geostationary satellites – Thesis Proposal


  1. Scott, R.L.
Corporate Authors
Defence R&D Canada - Ottawa, Ottawa ONT (CAN)
This thesis research proposal presents a non-resolved optical detection research approach to infer the presence of satellites performing On Orbit Servicing (OOS) in geostationary orbit. The recent successes of autonomous robotic servicing missions such as Orbital Express and DART are showing that OOS is becoming a technically viable reality. OOS poses a new problem for space surveillance as the performance of proximity operations about client satellites is difficult to detect and differentiate at geostationary satellite ranges. The detection issue is that both the client and servicing objects are non-resolved, and cannot be differentiated by traditional optical space surveillance systems. To overcome this issue this proposal investigates the use of photometric light curve inversion to infer the presence of the secondary object. Numerical simulations will be used to estimate and parameterize appropriate kernel functions to deconvolve two optical signatures in order to provide evidence of the secondary object's presence. Applications of this work permit the detection and verification of secondary objects in close proximity to geostationary satellites in GEO orbit with low cost optical equipment. This work may potentially also be used to determine if an object has shed large breakup debris moving with slow relative motion with respect to the parent object.

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Report Number
DRDC-OTTAWA-TM-2010-257 — Technical Memorandum
Date of publication
01 Dec 2010
Number of Pages
Electronic Document(PDF)

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