In-orbit tracking of high area-to-mass ratio space objects

Daniel N. Brack, Pini Gurfil

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingConference contributionpeer-review


High area-to-mass ratio space objects at geosynchronous orbits pose a threat to operational satellites because of the difficulty to track them from Earth. This paper develops an in-orbit on-board algorithm for tracking high area-to-mass ratio space objects. The design utilizes relative motion dynamics and a simplified stereo-camera measurement model to estimate the tracked object's position and velocity, as well as its solar radiation pressure coefficient. An underlying assumption is the dominance of the solar radiation pressure perturbation. Two scenarios are examined: similar orbits and crossing orbits. The simulation results show that the tracking algorithm estimates the tracked object position, velocity, and solar radiation pressure coefficient in both scenarios with high accuracy. The simulations show that although shape information is lost in the measurement model, the solar radiation pressure coefficient can still be estimated.

Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationSpaceflight Mechanics 2017
EditorsJon A. Sims, Frederick A. Leve, Jay W. McMahon, Yanping Guo
Number of pages15
StatePublished - 2017
Event27th AAS/AIAA Space Flight Mechanics Meeting, 2017 - San Antonio, United States
Duration: 5 Feb 20179 Feb 2017

Publication series

NameAdvances in the Astronautical Sciences


Conference27th AAS/AIAA Space Flight Mechanics Meeting, 2017
Country/TerritoryUnited States
CitySan Antonio

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Aerospace Engineering
  • Space and Planetary Science


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