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posted on 15.08.2019 by Rohith Reddy Sanaga
The space around the Earth is becoming increasingly populated with a growth in number of launches and proliferation of debris. Currently, there are around 44,000 objects (with a minimum size of 10cm) orbiting the Earth as per the data made publicly available by the US strategy command (USSTRATCOM). These objects include active satellites and debris. The number of these objects are expected to increase rapidly in future from launches by companies in the private sector. For example, SpaceX is expected to deploy around 12000 new satellites in the LEO region to develop a space-based internet communication system. Hence in order to protect active space assets, tracking of all the objects is necessary. Probabilistic tracking methods have become increasingly popular for solving the multi-target tracking problem in Space Situational Awareness (SSA). This thesis studies one such technique known as the GM-PHD filter, which is an algorithm which estimates the number of objects and its states when non-perfect measurements (noisy measurements, false alarms) are available. For Earth orbiting objects, especially those in Geostationary orbits, ground based optical sensors are a cost-efficient way to gain information.In this case, the likelihood of gaining target-generated measurements depend on the probability of detection (pD) of the target.An accurate modeling of this quantity is essential for an efficient performance of the filter. pD significantly depends on the amount of light reflected by the target towards the observer. The reflected light depends on the relative position of the target with respect to the Sun and the observer, the shape, size and reflectivity of the object and the relative orientation of the object towards Sun and the observer. The estimation of the area and reflective properties of the object is in general, a difficult process. Uncontrolled objects, for example, start tumbling and no information regarding the attitude motion can be obtained. In addition, the shape can change because of disintegration and erosion of the materials. For the case of controlled objects, given that the object is stable, some information on the attitude can be obtained. But materials age in space which changes the reflective properties of the materials. Also, exact shape models for these objects are rare. Moreover,, area can never be estimated with optical measurements or any other measurements, as it is always albedo-area i.e., reflectivity times area that can be measured.
The purpose of this work is to design a variation of the GM-PHD filter which accounts for the uncertainty in pD as the original GM-PHD filter designed by Vo and Ma assumes pD as a constant. It is validated that the proposed method improves the filter performance when there is an uncertainty in area(hence uncertainty in pD) of the targets. In the tested cases, the uncertainty in pD was modeled as an uncertainty in area while assuming that the targets are spherical and that the reflectivity of the targets is constant. It is seen that a model mismatch in pD affects the filter performance significantly and the proposed method improves the performance of the filter in all cases.


Degree Type

Master of Science in Aeronautics and Astronautics


Aeronautics and Astronautics

Campus location

West Lafayette

Advisor/Supervisor/Committee Chair

Dr.Carolin Frueh

Advisor/Supervisor/Committee co-chair

Dr.Kathleen Howell

Additional Committee Member 2

Dr.Inseok Hwang



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