Near Earth Space Object Detection Using Parallax as Multi-hypothesis Test Criterion

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The US Strategic Command (USSTRATCOM) operated Space Surveillance Network (SSN) is tasked with Space Situational Awareness (SSA) for the U.S. military. This system is made up of Electro-Optic sensors, such as the Ground-based Electro-Optical Deep Space Surveillance (GEODSS) and RADAR based sensors, such as the Space Fence Gaps. They remain in the tracking of Resident Space Objects (RSO’s) in Geosynchronous Orbits (GEO), due to limitations of SST and GEODSS system implementation. This research explores a reliable, ground-based technique used to quickly determine an RSO’s altitude from a single or limited set of observations. Implementation of such sensors into the SSN would mitigate GEO SSA performance gaps. The research entails a method used to distinguish between the point spread function (PSF) observed by a star and the PSF observed from an RSO by using Multi-Hypothesis Testing with parallax as a test criterion. Parallax is the effect that an observed object will appear to shift when viewed from different positions. This effect is explored by generating PSFs from telescope observations of space objects at different baselines. The research has shown the PSF of an RSO can be distinguished from that of a star using single, simultaneous observations from reference and parallax sensing telescopes. This report validates these techniques with both simulations and experimental data from the SST and Naval Observatory sensors.


Publisher version of record at OSA: https://doi.org/10.1364/OE.27.005403

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Optics Express