NOAO >   Observing Info >   Approved Programs >   2014A-0049

Small NOAO Logo

Proposal Information for 2014A-0049


PI: Patrick Seitzer, University of Michigan, pseitzer@umich.edu
Address: Department of Astronomy, 500 Church St, Ann Arbor, Michigan 48109-1042, USA

CoI: Susan M. Lederer, NASA/JSC
CoI: Kira J. Abercromby, California Polytechnic State University
CoI: Edwin S. Barker, LZ Technology, Inc
CoI: Andrew Burkhardt, University of Virginia
CoI: Heather Cowardin, JETS/Jacobs
CoI: Paula Krisko, JETS/Jacobs
CoI: Dave Monet, US Naval Observatory
CoI: Catherine Kaleida, NOAO/CTIO

Title: A Search for Optically Faint Space Debris at GEO

Abstract: The largest population of artificial objects in Earth orbit is debris, such as inactive satellites, rocket bodies, and parts of spacecraft. This population represents a collision risk to operational spacecraft, of which there are over 250 at geosynchronous orbit (GEO). Existing optical surveys for GEO debris have been conducted with meter class telescopes such as the Curtis-Schmidt telescope, which have optical detection limits near R = 18.5. This corresponds to a size of 20 cm assuming an albedo of 0.175. Our goal is a survey for debris to the faintest limiting magnitude possible. The Blanco+DECam exposure time calculator suggests that a 5 second exposure should reach r' = 21.5, corresponding to 5 cm in diameter, or just larger than a golf ball. We will quantify the total collision risk at GEO of debris larger than this size. At the relative velocities of debris and spacecraft at GEO (up to 0.7 km/sec), almost every object detected with Blanco+DECam represents a potential hazard to an active GEO spacecraft.


National Optical Astronomy Observatory, 950 North Cherry Avenue, P.O. Box 26732, Tucson, Arizona 85726, Phone: (520) 318-8000, Fax: (520) 318-8360



NOAO >   Observing Info >   Approved Programs >   2014A-0049

noaoprop-help@noao.edu

Small NOAO Logo