Analysis of ground-based optical means of observing laser beacons on board near-Earth spacecraft

DOI: 10.34759/trd-2022-127-19


Vernigora L. V.*, Kasmerchuk P. V.**, Sysoev V. K.***

Lavochkin Research and Production Association, NPO Lavochkin, 24, Leningradskay str., Khimki, Moscow region, 141400, Russia



A critical issue in the spacecraft navigation consists in precise determination of the spacecraft position in space. The spacecraft navigation parameters measuring in the near-Earth space may be realized employing both onboard and ground-based measurement facilities, which include radio-technical and optical systems. In the low-orbit region with orbits altitude less than 5000 km radar measurement means are being employed as a rule. At the altitudes above 5000 km, a spacecraft is out of the radar stations visibility zone. In case absence of the onboard radio-technical means as a part of the spacecraft, ensuring current navigation parameters measuring, photometrical surveillance becomes the only susceptible possibility for the spacecraft monitoring and its technical state evaluation. Optical measuring instruments are capable of ensuring higher accuracy than with the radio band application. However, optical means of observation have a number of disadvantages, which significantly limit their capabilities. Such disadvantages are as follows: their dependence on the time of day, illumination of the spacecraft, and weather conditions. Besides, a small-sized spacecraft has utterly low visible brightness, which aggravates their observation by optical means. These shortcomings can be partially overcome by installing optical laser beacons onboard the near-Earth spacecraft, which will allow ensuring operational monitoring of their condition (both orbital and rotation parameters, including the case of communication deficiency with them) by the ground-based optical means

Ground-based optical observation stations of the Space Monitoring System perform monitoring of all objects located in the near-Earth space to maintain a catalog of orbital parameters for subsequent prediction of their position. Obtaining long photometric series for the tasks of the Space Monitoring System is possible, but only by suspending the main tasks execution. Besides its own standard optical ground-based observation facilities, the Space Monitoring System extensively employs of the observations results obtained at optical observation stations of scientific organizations, particularly, the Pulkovo Cooperation of Optical Observers (PulCON), the Russian Academy of Sciences (INASAN, SibIZMIR), the Roscosmos Research Institute and university observatories. All these optical observation stations are equipped with modern telescopes and photodetectors that will allow for confident registration of radiation from laser beacons installed onboard the near-Earth spacecraft, thereby increasing the reliability of the near-Earth spacecraft positioning regardless of their size and orbit type.


spacecraft, optical means of observation, optical beacons


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