Space debris evolution modelling investigates the population development of the objects present in space.
Real-time precise orbit determination (POD) and precise positioning are fundamental requirements for space situational awareness (debris surveillance, collision warning and avoidance), accurate GNSS radio occultation, in-space tracking and navigation, as well as the maintenance and operation of satellites.
Space debris evolution modelling is an important procedure to measure and predict the space appropriateness for human explorations. That is, active debris removal measures have to be taken to prevent occurrence of a collisional cascading effect - the so called Kessler Syndrome. This has the potential to end space operations. Any attempt at removing debris objects requires an accurate knowledge of the objects’ positions. A large aspect of the debris problem is that only a fraction of debris objects are tracked and catalogued, most with low to moderate accuracy levels. Many objects capable of rendering a satellite inoperable are not tracked.
Precise orbit determination and prediction are extremely important for reliable collision warning services. Improvements need to be made in the accuracy of the orbit prediction for collision warning systems to protect assets and reduce the chance of contributing to the debris problem by increased occurrence of collisions between satellites.
Under a collaborative effort between RMIT and its collaborative partners, improved methods and algorithms are being developed using satellite laser ranging, optical and GNSS measurements for real-time POD, precise positioning and atmospheric mass density modelling. A suite of advanced software and system platforms will also be developed to enhance Australia’s capabilities in space research.
The SPACE Research Centre is actively researching the following topics:
- Precise orbit determination, in-space service
- Debris surveillance and collision avoidance
- Satellite Laser Ranging (SLR), Square Kilometre Array (SKA)