Precise atmospheric density correction model for tracking space debris

This project will investigate new atmospheric density (AD) correction models to improve the accuracy of satellite orbit determination.

Space debris is a significant problem for the space industry. It can cause substantial damage to satellite and shuttle technology and significantly impact the safety of astronauts in space.

The importance of accurately monitoring and modelling space debris orbits has been recognised since the launch of the first satellites. Despite cutting-edge technologies, the accuracy of space debris tracking required by the space industry is not yet achievable due to poor atmospheric models. Improving atmospheric models will not only improve the accuracy of space debris tracking, but also allow objects to be tracked down to much smaller length scales.

The main expected outcome of this research is a new, improved AD correction model for low earth orbit aerodynamic missions designed for surveillance, monitoring, collision avoidance/warning, re-entry prediction and lifetime estimates purposes.

This research will have a significant impact on the improvement of unaided debris laser ranging. An order of magnitude improvement is expected in the accuracy of AD correction models. This will lead to significant breakthroughs in space object tracking. 


This is a joint research venture between RMIT University SPACE Research Centre and Electro Optic Systems Space System Pty Ltd.

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RMIT University acknowledges the people of the Woi wurrung and Boon wurrung language groups of the eastern Kulin Nation on whose unceded lands we conduct the business of the University. RMIT University respectfully acknowledges their Ancestors and Elders, past and present. RMIT also acknowledges the Traditional Custodians and their Ancestors of the lands and waters across Australia where we conduct our business. - Artwork created by Louisa Bloomer