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Preliminary Results from Reflectance Spectroscopy Observations of Space Debris in GEO

Vananti, A. 1, Schidknecht, T. 1, Krag, H. 1, Erd, C.1
Affiliation data not available1

Document details

Publishing year2009 PublisherESA Publishing typeConference Name of conference5th European Conference on Space Debris
Pagesn/a Volume
H. Lacoste


The space debris environment in the Geostationary Earth Orbit (GEO) region is mostly investigated using optical telescopes. The detection of the objects and the determination of their orbits are based on optical observations. However, for a better characterization of the environment it would be necessary to know the shape and the material of the objects. The area-to-mass ratio can be estimated from orbit determinations. In some rare case additional information can be derived from photometric measurements. A possible technique to investigate the material type of the debris is the reflectance spectroscopy. This paper discusses preliminary results obtained from spectrometric observations of orbital space debris. The observations were acquired at the 1-meter ESA Space Debris Telescope (ESASDT) on Tenerife with a low-resolution spectrograph in the wavelength range of 450-960 nm. The observed objects are space debris in GEO orbits with brightness as small as magnitude 16. The spectra show shape variations expected to be caused by the different physical properties of the objects. The determination of the material and of the type of object is still in a preliminary phase. Limitations of the acquisition process of the spectra and the subsequent analysis are discussed. Future steps planned for a better characterization of the debris from the observed data are briefly outlined.