Scientists Developed Laser-Based Technology to Accurately Detect Space Junk

​Scientists in China have enhanced the precision of detecting space debris in Earth‘s orbit, offering a more efficient method to plan safe routes for spacecraft operating. Researchers have created space junk detection systems; however, it has ultimately proved difficult to identify the swift, tiny specks of space junk.

An innovative set of algorithms for laser ranging telescopes, depicted in the Journal of Laser Applications, has massively enhanced the success rate of space junk detection.

“After improving the pointing accuracy of the telescope through a neural network, space debris with a cross-sectional area of one meter squared and a distance of 1,500 kilometers can be detected,” said Tianming Ma, from the Chinese Academy of Surveying and Mapping, and Liaoning Technical University.

Laser-ranging technology utilizes laser reflection from items to calculate their distance. Even so, the echo signal mirrored from the surface of space jink is incredibly dim, reducing the precision.

Prior techniques improved laser ranging showcasing the debris but only to one kilometer (3,280 miles) range. Applications of neural networks, which are algorithms developed on the human brain’s sensory inputs, processing, and output levels, to laser​-ranging techniques have been previously considered.

The Most Accurate Tool So Far

The new research is the first in which a neural network has massively enhanced the detection accuracy of a laser​-ranging telescope. Ma and the team trained a backpropagation neural network to identify space junk utilizing two correct algorithms.

The Genetic Algorithm and Levenberg-Marquardt improved the neural network’s limits for recognition of space leftovers, making sure the array was not too weak and could be trained on localized regions of space.

The team of researchers proved the enhanced precision by testing three standard methods at the Beijing Fangshen laser​ range telescope station. The observation data of 95 stars was utilized to solve the algorithm ratios from each technique, and the precision of identifying 22 other stars was analyzed.

The new identification correction algorithms proved to be the most precise, as well as easy to manage with great real-time performance.

“Obtaining the precise orbit of space debris can provide effective help for the safe operation of spacecraft in orbit,” Ma said.

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