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Optical observation of space debris in the geostationary ring

Schildknecht, T. 1, Musci, R. 1, Ploner, M. 1, Preisig, S. 1, De Leon Cruz, J. 1, Krag, H.1
Affiliation data not available1

Document details

Publishing year2001 PublisherESA Publishing typeConference Name of conference3rd European Conference on Space Debris
Pagesn/a Volume
H. Lacoste


Currently, the GEO population of debris objects with sizes smaller than 1 m2 - about the limit of the US Space Command catalogue - is vastly unknown. There is even evidence for an incompleteness of the catalogue at larger sizes. In view of this situation, several space agencies started to perform optical observations of the geostationary ring. NASA conducts optical surveys with a 0.32 m Schmidt telescope equipped with a CCD detector. The European Space Agency (ESA) has also initiated its own program for optical observations of space debris using a 1 m Ritchey-Chr├ętien telescope on Tenerife (Canary Islands). The efforts have been complemented by an initiative of the Inter-Agency Space Debris Coordination Committee (IADC). The paper presents the results from the ESA program. Most remarkable is the detection of a previously suspected substantial population of small objects. The survey sampled a limited volume of the orbital element-magnitude space only. In order to asses the observational selection effects the observations have been simulated using a reference population and the ESA PROOF tool.