Uncued Faint Object Detection in LEO and GEO

Period of Performance: 09/17/2013 - 12/14/2015

$748K

Phase 2 SBIR

Recipient Firm

Go Green Termite Inc., dba Bay Area Term
6423 Poppyfield St
Gilroy, CA 95020
Principal Investigator

Abstract

ABSTRACT: We propose to demonstrate the real world performance of the systems and techniques developed under Phase I for detection and initial orbit determination of objects in low Earth orbit. Initially we will use 0.35m optical systems assembled from off-the-shelf components and followed with the construction and deployment of custom designed wide-field optics. Coupled with our techniques, these systems are predicted to detect LEO objects fainter than visual magnitude 12 and serve as a proof-of-concept for larger optical systems that will detect objects fainter than magnitude 14. Follow-up observations will verify and characterize detections of both previous known and unknown objects and confirm the limits and dynamic range of our detection techniques. BENEFIT: Uncued detection of dim objects in LEO involves two distinctly different pieces of technology that have to work together perfectly for one to have any hope of actually fielding a viable search and detect capability. One capability is provided by the wide field of view optical systems, the other by the image processing and detection algorithms. This first capability can commercialized for the amateur astronomy marketplace and for college and university observatories, both customer types have expressed great interest in GGT s potential products that would stem from Phase 2. The image processing and detection algorithms, coupled with a network of optical systems, will be of greatest interest to larger entities that have a stake in LEO, including the US government, particularly DOD, NASA, & NOAA, the governments of our allies, commercial satellite operators and their insurance underwriters. Together the economic value of LEO space is measured at least in the hundreds of billions of dollars and our techniques coupled with an optical network can provide significant risk assessment and mitigation.