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RKS to Use Photonic Technologies to Control Space Debris

By Doug Messier
Parabolic Arc
January 14, 2022
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Location of the 24,000 debris larger than 10 cm in low orbit in 2020. (Credits: NASA)

Translated from Russian by Google Translate

MOSCOW (Roscosmos PR) — To control near-earth space and observe artificial objects in near-earth orbit, specialists of Russian Space Systems (RKS, part of the Roscosmos State Corporation) propose to use the latest photonic technologies and original methods of ground processing of optical information. The corresponding system for monitoring “space debris” was developed and patented by the RKS to solve one of the most urgent tasks today – cleaning the orbit from exhausted artificial Earth satellites, various space objects and their fragments.

With the help of optical signals and their processing system, it will be possible to find, recognize, identify, measure the dimensions and calculate the trajectory of movement of even small fragments of space debris. The system will be able to identify potential threats for timely reactions and changes in movement trajectories, for example, spacecraft or ships. 

Observation of the “space debris” will be conducted by ground-based optical telescopes. The project involves the construction of an optoelectronic control system using three sequentially connected information channels and aperture synthesis technology to increase the viewing angle.The author of the project, chief researcher at the RKS expert-analytical center,

Professor Konstantin Sviridov said: “The presence of so-called space debris in orbit is becoming one of the problems of space exploration and an ever-increasing threat to environmental safety. RKS proposes to use high-resolution optoelectronic systems, which determine the coordinates of small space objects with great accuracy. Our solution will be able to reliably search, measure and identify pieces of space debris of various sizes. “

To improve the quality of the received data and filter noise (eliminate interference from the useful signal or reduce the level of errors in data transmission channels), RKS specialists suggest using the photon counting method, which is now used when registering weak signals. The system will also carry out photocount detection (optical image coding and computational decoding to obtain new images of higher quality), as well as digital adaptive-correlation processing of the information received.

RKS is one of the leaders in the development and implementation of photonic technologies of the future in space technology. Thus, at MAKS-2021, the holding was the first in the world to demonstrate a so-called high-precision optical clock using photonic technology, which generates a signal of precise frequency and time to improve the accuracy of GLONASS geolocation. Today, RKS conducts scientific research in the field of photonics in several directions simultaneously – the creation of sensor, measuring and converting equipment, multispectral cameras, component base and metamaterials based on photonic technologies, will open up new opportunities for space exploration.