Dresden 2013 – wissenschaftliches Programm
AGA 4.1: Hauptvortrag
Donnerstag, 7. März 2013, 09:00–10:00, HSZ-04
Optical Tracking and Characterization of Space Objects — •Thomas Schildknecht — Astronomical Institute University of Bern, Switzerland
Near-Earth space becomes increasingly populated with artificial space objects. A multitude of operational Earth observation, communication, research, and military spacecraft share this space with a large number of abandoned rocket upper stages, defunct spacecraft and fragmentation debris - so-called space debris. Knowing the orbits of all these objects becomes indispensable to `manage the traffic' and prevent accidental collisions. Traditionally the task of building and maintaining orbit catalogues was left to military entities. Only limited and degraded information from these catalogues is publicly available, and more importantly, information on military spacecraft is intentionally withhold. Furthermore most of the small-size space debris is not contained in these catalogues.
The proliferation of space debris and the increased probability of collisions and interference raise concerns about the long-term sustainability of space activities. During recent years space agencies and civilian research organizations increased their efforts to build space object catalogues and to investigate the space debris population. This paper will describe optical techniques to detect, track and characterize space objects including small-size debris and illustrate them with examples from the long-standing observation programs of the Astronomical Institute of the University of Bern (AIUB) devoted to the search of space debris and the surveillance of the geostationary ring.