Scientists want mini satellites to act as space cops to control traffic in orbit

Shane McGlaun - Jan 24, 2014
Scientists want mini satellites to act as space cops to control traffic in orbit

A group of scientists from the Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory has devised a plan that will use mini satellites to act as cops in space. The little satellites would be used to help control traffic in space and refine trajectories to prevent collisions. The scientist recently used a series of images that were taken over a 60-hour period from a ground-based satellite to prove you can refine the orbit of another satellite in low earth orbit.

The scientists say that their orbiting satellite will eventually be able to make the same sort of observations as the ground based satellite in the test. That will allow the team to help prevent collisions with other satellites and debris in space.

The plan to help prevent collisions in space is called the Space-Based Telescopes for Actionable Refinement of Ephemeris mission known as STARE. The plan will have a constellation of mini satellites in low earth orbit that can refine the orbits of satellites and space debris to less than 100 meters.

The satellite that tested on the ground was able to refine the orbit of the NORAD 27006 satellite based on four observations made in 24 hours. It was then able to predict the trajectory of the satellite within less than 50 meters over the news 36 hours. These tools used in the ground-based test are the same ones that will be used for the STARE mission. Current positional accuracy for systems making this sort of calculation is only on the order of 1 kilometer making the new mini satellites much more accurate.

SOURCE: Laboratory Equipment

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