EPFL Space Situational Awareness Team

Make space a better place

Make space a better place


In view of the growing number of space debris in Earth orbit, as well as the increasingly frequent commissioning of satellites, it is becoming urgent to organise space traffic. Indeed, since orbiting objects travel at several tens of kilometres per second, the slightest collision results in considerable damage. This material damage is a source of high maintenance costs, but it also causes the appearance of new debris, which in turn increases the probability of collisions…

Under the impetus of the Laboratory of Astrophysics (LASTRO), the Space Situational Awareness (SSA) EPFL Team was founded in spring 2020. Its objective is to set up a catalogue containing important information on every object detectable in Earth orbit, in order to predict, and thus avoid, dramatic collisions. 

After a year of theoretical work and first tries on a prototype to take photos ourselves, our team has been able to obtain interesting results and detect some first satellites. Now the goal is to build a new telescope that can automatically detect satellites every night. This telescope will be located in Astroval in the Joux valley, and work on the design as well as the continuation of the image processing algorithm will continue next year. The image acquisition system and associated software should eventually form a complete system for building and publishing the catalogue, benefiting space organizations and observatories.

The SSA EPFL Team, which will consist of about 15 students in June 2021, is looking forward to welcoming new recruits. The team’s activities will certainly be of interest to any student with a passion for space development. On the other hand, students interested in the problems of image classification using Machine Learning, or in numerical simulations, will also find some of the team’s activities attractive. Engineering students may be interested in the development of the new telescope prototype. The different sub-projects of this interdisciplinary project are presented on the team’s website :




We have projects for all EPFL students (mainly for basic sciences and computer and communication sciences students), please contact us:

Contact the students: [email protected]

Contact the student manager: [email protected]

EPFL Coordinator : David Rodriguez (EPFL Space Center – E-space)

Academic Responsible : Jean-Paul Kneib (E-space)