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Accurate Orbit Determination of Space Debris with Laser Tracking

Christoph Bamann1,Urs Hugentobler1
Technical University of Munich1

Document details

Publishing year2017 PublisherESA Space Debris Office Publishing typeConference Name of conference7th European Conference on Space Debris
Pagesn/a Volume
T. Flohrer, F. Schmitz


Accurate orbit determination of space debris is a topic of great and ever-growing importance, particularly in view of the increasing number of objects in populated orbit regimes with high densities of operational satellites. To this end, debris laser ranging, which can be established on the basis of on an existing network of stations and associated expertise, is considered as a promising concept to provide timely and accurate observations. Moreover, the combination of high laser pulse energies and generally irregular shapes of debris objects facilitates bi- or multi-static ranging, thereby maximizing the obtainable information content. We present orbit solutions that are based on real data acquired within the framework of an ESA GSTP study. Building on that, we deliver further insight into the technology’s capabilities by analyzing different observation scenarios in a network of three central-European stations and emphasize the impact of multi-static laser ranging data. Eventually, we compare our orbit solutions to the current state-of-the-art, namely augmenting TLEs, SP catalog data, and solutions based on data from dedicated tracking radars. In doing so, we employ cross-validation studies as well as comparisons with respect to reference orbits. The results are further used as performance measures quantifying reachable ranging as well as obtainable orbit accuracies.