The Virginia Tech Optical Satellite Tracking Telescope (VTOST) aims to test the feasibility of a commercial off-the-shelf (COTS) designed tracking system for Space Situational Awareness (SSA) data contribution. A novel approach is considered, combining two COTS systems, a high-powered telescope, built for astronomy purposes, and a larger field of view (FOV) camera. Using only publicly available two-line element sets (TLEs), orbital propagation accuracy degrades quickly with time from epoch and is often not accurate enough to task a high-powered, small FOV telescope. Under this experimental approach, the larger FOV camera is used to acquire and track the resident space object (RSO) and provide a real-time pointing update to allow the high-powered telescope to track the RSO and provide possible resolved imagery. VTOST is designed as a remotely taskable sensor, based on current network architecture, capable of serving as a platform for further SSA studies, including unresolved and resolved imagery analysis, network tasking, and orbit determination. Initial design considerations are based on the latest Raven class and other COTS based telescope research, including research by the Air Force Research Lab (AFRL), ExoAnalytic Solutions, and other university level telescope projects. A holistic system design, including astronomy, image processing, and tracking methods, in a low-budget environment is considered. Method comparisons and results of the system design process are presented.
Advanced Maui Optical and Space Surveillance Technologies Conference
- Pub Date:
- September 2016