Manuel Angel Sánchez Piedra

Nationality: Spanish
Funding entity and Program: Member of the Royal Institute and Observatory of the Spanish Navy as Head of the SLR Station.

PhD Thesis

Orbit Determination of space debris objects from the fusion of the information obtained by different sensors


Manuel Sanjurjo Rivo (UC3M) and Manuel Catalán Morollón (Royal Institute and Observatory of the Spanish Navy)


The proliferation of space debris puts the continuity of space missions at risk and poses a serious challenge to correct. The number of objects classified as space debris is increasing rapidly, especially in regions of great interest for commercial or scientific exploitation. Due to the high added value of these regions, the cataloging of space debris objects has become a topic of great importance and growing interest. Cataloging is a process that includes the positioning information inferred after the detection of new objects, the monitoring and updating of those already existing in the catalog. These tasks are vital to be able to develop anti-collision maneuvers, among other services provided by space debris tracking and surveillance systems.

The precision achieved in the orbit determination process depends on several factors, among which are: the precision of the sensors that have been used, the relative geometry between the sensors and the observed object, the length of the observed arc and the number and distribution of the observations. The use of different observation techniques provides certain advantages: a) it allows to increase the number of available observations, b) it allows to merge observed distances and angles, giving the improved orbit a 3D perspective, and c) it makes it possible to handle different orbital configurations due to the highest density of sensors. It is interesting to note that the use of various types of sensors offers an additional possibility such as making real-time corrections to the orbit that allow optimizing the precision of the ephemeris used to start tracking by posterior sensors. This will positively affect the number of observations to be obtained. In conclusion, it is foreseeable that this contributory work method will achieve better results in the orbital determination

Doctoral Meetings 2021-2022

PhD Aerospace Engineering Doctoral Meetings 21-22 – M. Sánchez-Piedra

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