Tracking space debris using directional statistics
Satellites in orbit run the risk of crashing into other objects, mainly debris left over from earlier launches. In order to protect satellites it is important to understand where the debris is so that avoiding action can be taken if necessary.
Of course the orbits of all objects in space are based on Newton’s laws of motion, at least to a first approximation. Information about the trajectories of space debris can be made, using e.g. ground-based telescopes. However, such information is noisy and incomplete. For example, with a telescope we can measure approximately the position of an object in the night sky (i.e. a point on the celestial sphere) but not the distance to the object.
The objective of this project is to improve the ability of current tracking algorithms by incorporating statistical tools from directional data analysis. Current algorithms are based on Euclidean geometry; however, many estimation variables and their uncertainty characteristics in this problem are non-Euclidean; e.g. an object’s location on the celestial sphere can be described by two angles.
The project will be carried out in collaboration with Applied Defense Solutions in the USA.
Funding for this project comes in part from the US Air Force. The project is open to both Home/EU and international students.
The project can be started any time from 1 January 2016.
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