Enhancing star trackers to detect and track space debris, while still guiding spacecraft orientation.

The project develops a star tracker that is capable of detecting and tracking space debris in orbit and sets up a system that gathers data coming from multiple star trackers.

A star tracker is an optical sensor on board of a satellite that takes and processes star images to determine the spacecraft orientation. Because the star tracker is optimized to detect bright dots, it is also very well suited to detect space debris that reflects light. Typically, non-star data is discarded in a star tracker, but in this project, algorithms are developed that process non-star signals to verify if they correspond to space debris. Once detected, the star tracker characterizes the orbit and size of the debris. This functionality is added to the star tracker, which retains its primary function of determining the attitude.

A database system will be set up to collect data from the different star trackers in orbit, and process it such that it can be fed into SSA databases of partnering organizations.

PROGRAMME: EIC Accelerator

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