Autonomous Threat Detection for Space Systems

Period of Performance: 03/02/2010 - 03/02/2011


Phase 1 SBIR

Recipient Firm

Princeton Satellite Systems
6 Market St. Suite 926
Plainsboro, NJ 08536
Principal Investigator


The Air Force requires autonomous flight software threat and anomaly detection and isolation algorithms to support the process of on-board event detection, planning, and task execution in order to enhance satellite responsiveness. We propose developing a sensor suite and estimation algorithms for autonomously detecting and tracking an orbital threat onboard a tactical satellite. The algorithms will make use of a hemispherical field of view multi-spectral telescope using large format APS sensors and a laser for target illumination. This will provide sensing in all lighting conditions. The proposed sensor would be on an articulated base allowing for on-orbit calibration and tracking of moving targets without rotating the spacecraft. The algorithms would integrate these measurements with measurements from other sources such as on-board radar, ground based radar and telescopes. The package would include Unscented Kalman Filters for state estimation and detection filters for maneuver detection. BENEFIT: This proposal is addressing Space Superiority and Responsive Space missions. The initial target customer for this technology is the Space Superiority Office of SMC. The anticipated benefit is specific recommendations and sensor requirements for improved space situational awareness and rapid threat detection. A conceptual design of a new hemispherical multispectral sensor will be completed. Threat state estimates are a necessary input to any evasive maneuvering in the event of an impending collision. Therefore this innovation makes an autonomous onboard collision avoidance system feasible for a range of spacecraft. The associated technologies would be applicable to many NASA missions particularly those that are in deep space where bandwidth limitations are inhibitors to responsiveness. The sensors proposed provide excellent space situational awareness for multivehicle manned or robotics missions, for instance satellite servicing and docking.