Satellite Activities

Space Situational Awareness and our satellite activities

What is SSA and how can we contribute?

Satellites and space debris in orbit around Earth. Photo credit: ESA 2013.

SSA, or Space Situational Awareness, is the field that strives to answer the question of where objects orbiting Earth are located in space and in time, with the main purpose being to prevent collisions and the subsequent damage to valuable satellites. Our global network of telescopes gives us the unique advantage of having 24-hour access to the night sky and the ability to observe satellites at a wide range of latitudes and longitudes.

 

How do we do it?

We use mainly our 0.4m network to do satellite work, with telescopes located at our sites in Australia, Chile, and Spain. We expect to have another one available in Hawaii mid-2016.

Using these telescopes, we can measure satellite positions accurate to within an arcsecond by tracking the satellite so that the stars are trails and the satellites circles. We use our in-house satellite pipeline to apply accurate coordinates to, and find the satellites in, each image.

The telescopes can track objects moving at up to 100 arcseconds per second, and we can generally observe them down to around 14th magnitude. We are well-suited to observe geostationary and GPS satellites.

 

 

Recent Updates

None at present.