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Improved Space Object Observation Techniques Using CMOS Detectors

Schildknecht, T. 1, Hinze, A. 1, Schlatter, P. 1, Silha, J. 1, Peltonen, J. 1, Santti, T. 1, Flohrer, T.1
Affiliation data not available1

Document details

Publishing year2013 PublisherESA Publishing typeConference Name of conference6th European Conference on Space Debris
Pagesn/a Volume
L. Ouwehand


CMOS-sensors, or in general Active Pixel Sensors (APS), are rapidly replacing CCDs in the consumer camera market. Due to significant technological advances during the past years these devices start to compete with CCDs also for demanding scientific imaging applications, in particular in the astronomy community. CMOS detectors offer a series of inherent advantages compared to CCDs, due to the structure of their basic pixel cells, which each contain their own amplifier and readout electronics. The most prominent advantages for space object observations are the extremely fast and flexible readout capabilities, feasibility for electronic shuttering and precise epoch registration, and the potential to perform image processing operations on-chip and in real-time. Presently applied and proposed optical observation strategies for space debris surveys and space surveillance applications had to be analyzed. The major design drivers were identified and potential benefits from using available and future CMOS sensors were assessed. The major challenges and design drivers for ground-based and space-based optical observation strategies have been analyzed. CMOS detector characteristics were critically evaluated and compared with the established CCD technology, especially with respect to the above mentioned observations. Similarly, the desirable on-chip processing functionalities which would further enhance the object detection and image segmentation were identified. Finally, the characteristics of a particular CMOS sensor available at the Zimmerwald observatory were analyzed by performing laboratory test measurements.