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First Results from an ESA Study on Accurate Orbit Determination with Laser Tracking of uncooperative Targets

Stefan Riepl1,Johann Eckl1,Georg Kirchner2,Fabian Sproll3,Daniel Hampf3,Paul Wagner3,Wolfgang Riede4,Ulrich Schreiber5,Franz Koidl2,Michael Steindorfer2,Christoph Bamann5,Urs Hugentobler5,Peiyuan Wang2,Tim Flohrer6,Quirin Funke7
Federal Office for Cartography and Geodesy Wettzell Germany1Austrian Academy of Sciences Graz Austria2German Aerospace Center Stuttgart Germany3German Aerospace Center4Technical University Munich Germany5ESA/ESOC Darmstadt Germany6IMS Space Consultancy ESA/ESOC Darmstadt Germany7

Document details

Publishing year2017 PublisherESA Space Debris Office Publishing typeConference Name of conference7th European Conference on Space Debris
Pagesn/a Volume
T. Flohrer, F. Schmitz


Within the framework of ESA's General Support Technology Program (GSTP) the Project “Accurate Orbit Determination with Laser Tracking” was successfully launched at the end of 2014. The participating institutions comprise the German Aerospace Center, Institute of Technical Physics, Stuttgart, the Austrian Academy of Science, Space Research Institute, Graz, the Technical University Munich, Research Facility Satellite Geodesy, Munich and the Federal Office for Cartography and Geodesy, Geodetic Observatory, Wettzell. The scope of this project encompasses the establishment of new tracking techniques for uncooperative, space-borne targets: Simultaneous 2-way laser ranging from two sites at two laser wavelengths (Wettzell: 1064 nm; Graz: 532 nm); and simultaneously multi-static ranging, where the stations in Graz and Stuttgart detected the diffuse radiation of Wettzell, backscattered from the space debris targets. Results are presented unveiling the rotational behaviour of rocket bodies as well as improved accuracy of orbit predictions due to the multi-static observation geometry.
For laser ranging to uncooperative targets, the cross section of the smallest objects detected so far are about 0.5 m², and the largest distances are about 3000 km.