Neural network and lasers. China proposes a new space debris detection method

The Earth’s orbit is far from the most dangerous place in the galaxy, but over the course of more than half a century of astronautics history, it has managed to “grow” with many objects that pose a threat to existing spacecraft. To avoid a collision with potentially dangerous objects, it is necessary to calculate their coordinates in advance. A new technique developed in China makes it possible to detect even the smallest, by cosmic standards, fragments of “dead” satellites.

Researchers at the Chinese Academy of Geodesy and Cartography in Beijing and Liaoning Technical University have developed a system for identifying space debris using laser telescopes. It is capable of tracking objects with a cross-sectional area of ​​1 square meter at a distance of up to 1,500 kilometers. Obtaining an accurate orbit of space debris can provide a significant increase in the accuracy of “space navigation” and avoid collisions of satellites with uncontrolled objects.

The technology determines the distance to scanned objects using reflected laser beams. By default, such a signal has a very low power, which reduces the accuracy of reading coordinates. Scientists managed to significantly increase the effectiveness of the “radar” using a neural network that recognizes even a weak reflected signal from small objects in orbit. The researchers also optimized the sensitivity thresholds of the algorithm, which allowed to separate the reflected signal from various interference.

In the future, a laser orbital scanning system will help create an accurate debris map, allowing you to adjust the route of existing satellites in time to avoid “space accidents”.

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