Canberra, Australia--Electro Optic Systems Holdings Limited (EOS) was awarded a $3.6 million dollar grant from the Australian Space Research Program (ASRP) to develop the world's first automated, high-precision, laser-based, space debris tracking system. See other astronomy-related news, "150 e2v imaging sensors delivered for Gaia."
The grant was awarded to a consortium led by EOS subsidiary, EOS Space Systems Pty. Limited, and which includes the Defence Science and Technology Organisation, Australian National University, and Global Near Space Services Inc. (U.S.). The consortium will apply the grant towards the estimated $9 million cost of enhancing EOS’ current space debris tracking capabilities at Mount Stromlo observatory (just outside Canberra) to meet current and future space debris tracking requirements.
The project will be led by EOS Space Systems, whose chief executive Craig Smith said, “Current space surveillance and tracking systems cannot determine orbits in space with sufficient accuracy to cost-effectively mitigate collisions between satellites and space debris. This project will demonstrate responsive, high precision laser and optical tracking of space debris, improved space situational awareness for key space assets, and fully remote and automated operation of a high performance laser tracking system. These new features, to be demonstrated from 2012, can significantly reduce the cost of providing debris protection to satellites, and will ease the integration of the capability into the operational processes of key users.”
In a related development, ASRP funds were awarded to a consortium to develop prototype space-based laser ranging hardware, intended to be flown on NASA’s GRACE (Gravity Recover and Climate Experiment) Follow-on mission, scheduled for launch in 2016.
EOS is also a participant in this consortium, which is led by the Australian National University. The other consortium members are CSIRO, the Jet Propulsion Laboratory of the Californian Institute of Technology, Max Planck Institute for Gravitational Physics (Albert Einstein Institute), and the National Measurement Institute.