LARADO concept (patent pending): a light sheet is formed by a collimated light source and a conic mirror. Objects passing through the sheet will scatter light that can be detected by a camera with a wide angle lens to determine the location and potentially size of the object. Serendipitously, the camera will also sense nearby illuminated objects outside the laser sheet.
LARADO concept (patent pending): a light sheet is formed by a collimated light source and a conic mirror. Objects passing through the sheet will scatter light that can be detected by a camera with a wide angle lens to determine the location and potentially size of the object. Serendipitously, the camera will also sense nearby illuminated objects outside the laser sheet.

Objective
Develop and demonstrate an innovative concept to perform real-time, on-orbit, local object detection to provide damage attribution and Space Situational Awareness. NRL is not aware of any comparable system. Currently, on-orbit data of particle impacts is typically collected from the inspection of satellite surfaces that are brought back to Earth. This simple concept can be tailored to specific applications e.g. by using different sheet geometries and sheet intensities to effectively cover larger or smaller areas.

Approach

  • A light sheet is formed using a collimated light source (e.g. a laser) and a conic mirror (axicon).
  • A wide field camera is used to detect scattered light from objects penetrating the laser sheet.
  • Option: A second, identical camera to separate cosmic ray events within the detector from small orbiting objects.
  • Option: Two sheets with different colors to retrieve trajectory direction.
  • Option: Conical sheets to more effectively cover a host satellite.
  • Option: Deployment on dedicated cube-sat for debris cloud investigation.
  • Option: More powerful laser for more effective debris cloud monitoring

Deliverable/Value/Accomplishment

  • Improved decision maker, planner, and operator near-real-time ability to determine cause of space-based service interruptions: known, natural, adversarial component failure
  • Near real-time Space Situational Awareness to identify conditions/actions that may affect space asset availability in order to proactively mitigate impacts
  • Diagnostics of orbital debris cloud evolution, especially small objects, after fractionation or collision