Observability Analysis for Space Situational Awareness

2020-04-26T00:52:12Z (GMT) by Alex M Friedman
Space operations from the dawn of the Space Age have resulted in a large, and growing, resident space object population. However, the availability of sensor resources is limited, which presents a challenge to Space Situational Awareness applications. When direct communication with an object is not possible, whether that is due to a lack of access for active satellites or due to the object being characterized as debris, the only independent information source for learning about the resident space object population comes from measurements. Optical measurements are often a cost-effective method for obtaining information about resident space objects.
This work uses observability analysis to investigate the relationship between desired resident space object characteristics and the information resulting from ground-based optical measurements. Observability is a concept developed in modern control theory for evaluating whether the information contained within measurements is sufficient to describe the dynamical progression of a system over time. In this work, observability is applied to Space Situational Awareness applications to determine what object characteristic information can be recovered from ground-based optical measurements and under which conditions these determinations are possible. In addition, the constraints and limitations of applying observability to Space Situational Awareness applications are assessed and quantified.