Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations

'Space cops' help control traffic in space

Date:
January 22, 2014
Source:
DOE/Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory
Summary:
Scientists are using mini-satellites that work as "space cops" to help control traffic in space.

From left to right: Brian Bauman, Vincent Riot, Darrell Carter, Lance Simms and Wim De Vries have developed and tested land-based mini-satellites that eventually will be used in space to help control traffic in space.
Credit: Photo by Julie Russell/LLNL

A team of Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory scientists are using mini-satellites that work as "space cops" to help control traffic in space.

Related Articles


The scientists used a series of six images over a 60-hour period taken from a ground-based satellite to prove that it is possible to refine the orbit of another satellite in low earth orbit.

"Eventually our satellite will be orbiting and making the same sort of observations to help prevent satellite-on-satellite and satellite-on-debris collisions in space," said Lance Simms, lead author of a paper appearing in an upcoming edition of the Journal of Small Satellites.

Collisions in space of satellites and space debris have become increasingly problematic.

To help satellite operators prevent collisions in space, the Space-Based Telescopes for Actionable Refinement of Ephemeris (STARE) mission, which will consist of a constellation of nano-satellites in low earth orbit, intends to refine orbits of satellites and space debris to less than 100 meters. STARE is an ongoing LLNL project led by Wim de Vries, with Vincent Riot as lead engineer.

Using the ground-based satellite, the Livermore team refined the orbit of the satellite NORAD 27006, based on the first four observations made within the initial 24 hours, and predicted NORAD's trajectory to within less than 50 meters over the following 36 hours.

By refining the trajectory of NORAD 27006 with their ground-based payload, the team believes they will be able to do the same thing for other satellites and debris once their payload is orbiting earth. The tools and analysis used to capture the images of NORAD 27006 and refine its orbit are the same ones that will be used during the STARE mission.

"This leads credence to the capability of STARE to accomplish its mission objectives," De Vries said.

Accurately predicting the location of a satellite in low earth orbit at any given time is difficult mainly because of the uncertainty in the quantities needed for the equations of motion. Atmospheric drag, for instance, is a function of the shape and mass of the satellite as well as the density and composition of the unstable atmosphere. These uncertainties and the incompleteness of the equations of motion lead to a quickly growing error in the position and velocity of any satellite being tracked in low earth orbit.

To account for these errors, the Space Surveillance Network (SSN) must repeatedly observe the set of nearly 20,000 objects it tracks; however, positional uncertainty of an object is about 1 kilometer. This lack of precision leads to approximately 10,000 false alarms per expected collision. With these large uncertainties and high false alarm rates, satellite operators are rarely motivated to move their assets after a collision warning is issued.

The STARE mission aims to reduce the 1 kilometer uncertainty down to 100 meters or smaller, which will in turn reduce the number of false alarms by roughly two orders of magnitude, Riot said.

In the case of the Livermore team, they were able to reduce the uncertainty to 50 meters, well below the 100-meter goal.


Story Source:

The above story is based on materials provided by DOE/Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory. Note: Materials may be edited for content and length.


Cite This Page:

DOE/Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory. "'Space cops' help control traffic in space." ScienceDaily. ScienceDaily, 22 January 2014. <www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2014/01/140122134236.htm>.
DOE/Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory. (2014, January 22). 'Space cops' help control traffic in space. ScienceDaily. Retrieved March 2, 2015 from www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2014/01/140122134236.htm
DOE/Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory. "'Space cops' help control traffic in space." ScienceDaily. www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2014/01/140122134236.htm (accessed March 2, 2015).

Share This


More From ScienceDaily



More Space & Time News

Monday, March 2, 2015

Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations


Featured Videos

from AP, Reuters, AFP, and other news services

Raw: SpaceX Launches Rocket, Satellites on Board

Raw: SpaceX Launches Rocket, Satellites on Board

AP (Mar. 2, 2015) SpaceX launched it&apos;s 16th Falcon 9 rocket from Cape Canaveral, Florida on Sunday night. The rocket was carrying two commercial communications satellites. (March 2) Video provided by AP
Powered by NewsLook.com
Astronauts Leave Space Station for Third Spacewalk

Astronauts Leave Space Station for Third Spacewalk

Reuters - News Video Online (Mar. 1, 2015) NASA Commander Barry Wilmore and Flight Engineer Terry Virts perform their third spacewalk in eight days outside the International Space Station. Rough Cut (no reporter narration). Video provided by Reuters
Powered by NewsLook.com
Spacesuit Water Leaks Not An Issue On Latest ISS Walk

Spacesuit Water Leaks Not An Issue On Latest ISS Walk

Newsy (Mar. 1, 2015) Astronauts are ahead of schedule with hardware upgrades to the International Space Station, despite last week&apos;s spacesuit water leak scare. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com
Nitrogen-Based Life Might Swim On Saturn's Largest Moon

Nitrogen-Based Life Might Swim On Saturn's Largest Moon

Newsy (Feb. 28, 2015) Researchers at Cornell University theorize life might exist on Saturn’s largest moon as nitrogen-based organisms. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com

Search ScienceDaily

Number of stories in archives: 140,361

Find with keyword(s):
Enter a keyword or phrase to search ScienceDaily for related topics and research stories.

Save/Print:
Share:

Breaking News:

Strange & Offbeat Stories


Space & Time

Matter & Energy

Computers & Math

In Other News

... from NewsDaily.com

Science News

Health News

Environment News

Technology News



Save/Print:
Share:

Free Subscriptions


Get the latest science news with ScienceDaily's free email newsletters, updated daily and weekly. Or view hourly updated newsfeeds in your RSS reader:

Get Social & Mobile


Keep up to date with the latest news from ScienceDaily via social networks and mobile apps:

Have Feedback?


Tell us what you think of ScienceDaily -- we welcome both positive and negative comments. Have any problems using the site? Questions?
Mobile: iPhone Android Web
Follow: Facebook Twitter Google+
Subscribe: RSS Feeds Email Newsletters
Latest Headlines Health & Medicine Mind & Brain Space & Time Matter & Energy Computers & Math Plants & Animals Earth & Climate Fossils & Ruins