Space Situational Awareness Team EPFL

L. Hartman

We are student led project aiming to track satellites and debris from ground based telescopes

L. Hartman, president

A new way to track satellites

Founded at EPFL in 2020, the Space Situational Awarness (SSA) EPFL Team aims at creating and maintaining a catalog of objects orbiting the Earth in order to prevent collisions with existing satellites and ease space development. Our medium-term goal is to be able to track and identify most of the objects and debris in orbit that are visible from the ground.

A challenging sustainability

The problem of space debris is growing exponentially. It has becomes a real and tangible threat to space missions. Since the first launches, space has been considered as an infinite environment, but the reality has set in as collisions have become more and more frequent. A first step in addressing the issue of space debris is knowing where they are, and where they’re going to be !

Autonomous telescope

Our goal is to gather data autonomously using our cutting edge telescope. To do this, we work on building a cupola to protect it from the elements. We will integrate a weather station to monitor the observation conditions. We are also working on automating the target acquisition. In the near future, we will set up the telescope in a remote location to gather the best data possible. This will require an independent energy source and a solid remote connection to send our data.

Machine learning

Using a large database of existing satellite images taken from the Earth, the SSA EPFL Team will train a neural network to detect, classify and identify orbiting objects. A catalog containing relevant information about each object will then be made public and continuously updated with every satellite launch or debris detect. This catalog with be made public and accessible by any entity that wishes to use it.

Precision measurements

Using our high quality data, we are developing tools necessary to extract the finest of details. We can therefore measure small variations in luminosity to determine the size, shape and the period of rotation of the object on itself. This allows us to decide whether the object is a space debris or a working satellite !

Join us in our goal to make space sustainable !

Contact us to join our team


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