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Ground-Based Optics to Track Space Debris

CANBERRA, Australia, Aug. 26, 2014 — A new facility will use electro-optics and radar to provide an enhanced view of debris orbiting the Earth.

Lockheed Martin Space Systems, in collaboration with Electro Optic Systems pty Ltd., is developing the new tracking site in Western Australia. It will use a combination of lasers and sensitive optical systems, similar to those found in telescopes, to detect, track and characterize manmade space debris.

The electro-optical technology can zoom in on specific objects and will sweep the sky and track up to 200,000 objects, according to the project developers. It will complement radar-based systems such as the U.S. Air Force’s Space Fence.

Utilizing advanced sensors and software, the new site will focus on specific objects and determine how fast they are moving, in what direction they are spinning, and what they are made of.

The site is being designed to provide government officials and commercial customers with a clearer picture and more useable information about objects that could endanger satellites.

“Ground-based space situational awareness is a growing priority for government and commercial organizations around the world that need to protect their investments in space,” said Rick Ambrose, executive vice president of Lockheed Martin Space Systems.

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