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Title: A New Approach to Space Situational Awareness using Small Ground-Based Telescopes

This report discusses a new SSA approach evaluated by Pacific Northwest National Laboratory (PNNL) that may lead to highly scalable, small telescope observing stations designed to help manage the growing space surveillance burden. Using the methods and observing tools described in this report, the team was able to acquire and track very faint satellites (near Pluto’s apparent brightness). Photometric data was collected and used to correlate object orbital position as a function of atomic clock-derived time. Object apparent brightness was estimated by image analysis and nearby star calibration. The measurement performance was only limited by weather conditions, object brightness, and the sky glow at the observation site. In the future, these new SSA technologies and techniques may be utilized to protect satellite assets, detect and monitor orbiting debris fields, and support Outer Space Treaty monitoring and transparency.
Publication Date:
OSTI Identifier:
Report Number(s):
DOE Contract Number:
Resource Type:
Technical Report
Research Org:
Pacific Northwest National Laboratory (PNNL), Richland, WA (US)
Sponsoring Org:
Country of Publication:
United States
space situational awareness; EMCCD camera; space debris; small telescopes