Institute of Technical Physics
Area of research:
Diploma & Master Thesis
DLR researchers at the Institute of Technical Physics are working on a laser-based optical tracking method to precisely determine the trajectories of space debris. Using these orbit data, satellites can perform specific avoidance manoeuvres. To determine the orbit of the pieces of debris, they are tracked by an optical telescope and simultaneously irradiated with laser pulses. For this purpose, high-precision optical tracking methods and orbital object analysis technologies are being developed at the Institute of Technical Physics.
The accumulation of defunct satellites, rocket bodies and other debris fragments in orbit is one of the greatest challenges facing the space industry today. It is critically important to develop techniques for characterizing space debris using ground-based observations so that we can form reliable strategies for preventing collisions and removing debris.
The DLR Institute of Technical Physics observes space debris using a number of telescopes in the Stuttgart area. Although these objects are usually too small and too far away to form resolved images, the overall brightness of the object appears to change as it rotates and reflects more or less sunlight towards an observer on the Earth. Time series of brightness measurements are known as light curves, and they contain important information about the object: its size, shape, the materials it is made of, and its rotation. But when all of these variables are reduced to a 1D time series it is difficult to recover this information.
We expect that measuring multiple color channels simultaneously (so called multi-spectral light curves) will help to more reliably determine the rotation state of space debris and give an indication of the materials which the debris is made of.
We have developed a software tool, which uses ray-tracing to simulate the light curves of space debris objects which we want to upgrade to allow multispectral simulations. This is where you come in!
Your specific tasks will be:
implementation of a physically accurate multi-spectral light curve simulator measurement of multi-spectral space debris light curves using the institute’s space debris tracking telescopes calibration and verification of your simulations by comparing simulated and measured data