Proximity Operations about and Identification of Non-Cooperative Resident Space Objects Using Stereo Imaging


Effective space situational awareness/battlespace awareness (SSA/BA) requires determination of resident space object (RSO) characteristics. Responsive SSA can often be enhanced with the use of small inspector satellites due to their relative ease to integrate and launch, coupled with their low cost. However, small satellites are often constrained by their inherent limits on power, mass, volume, ĝV, and processor capabilities. Inspection missions are further complicated when the RSO is un/noncooperative (nRSO). In such cases, the inspector must execute its mission without the benefit of GPS data from the nRSO, beacons/reflectors on the nRSO, or any a priori information about the nRSO. Radar and LiDAR systems can be effective, but often require excessive power and volume for use on a small satellite. Furthermore, in uncooperative scenarios, detection of the inspector spacecraft by the RSO may be undesirable. The Missouri University of Science and Technology's Satellite Research team (M-SAT) has been developing a technology demonstration mission that uses two cameras configured as a stereoscopic imager sensor that can provide the relative state of an nRSO in near real-time. The mission is composed of two microsatellites: MR SAT as the inspector and MRS SAT as the nRSO. The mission goal is to demonstrate that the stereoscopic imager can be used for both autonomous proximity operations as well as providing images that can used to determine characteristics of an nRSO including rendering a three-dimensional reconstruction of the nRSO.


Mechanical and Aerospace Engineering


This work was funded by the Air Force Office of Scientific Research / Air Force Research Laboratory University Nanosatellite Program .

Keywords and Phrases

Global positioning system; Optical radar; Satellites; Three dimensional computer graphics; Effective space; Non-cooperative; Priori information; Proximity operations; Science and Technology; Smallsat; Stereo imaging; Three-dimensional reconstruction; Stereo image processing; RSO; SSA

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Article - Journal

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© 2018 Elsevier, All rights reserved.

Publication Date

01 Feb 2019