Industrial Sciences Group is developing a new tool to help satellite operators assess the risks to satellites from collisions with space debris.

  • Industrial Sciences Group, a successful International Space Investment initiative grant recipient, will develop a new tool to help satellite operators assess the risks to satellites from collisions with space debris. Its decision support system will enable satellite operations ro make decisions with greater certainty and speed.
  • Collisions between space junk and satellites are a major concern in the space community, especially in Low Earth Orbit (LEO).

'We will need to actively manage the ‘traffic’ on the ‘roads’ in space, but there are no highway police up there. Even if something as small as a screw flies into a satellite, it can break the satellite apart and create more junk and debris.’ - David Shteinman, Industrial Sciences Group 

  • Industrial Sciences Group is tackling the problem with specialist expertise in statistics, mathematics and astrodynamics.

 ‘There is no global approach to assess the risk and probability of a collision occurring in space, but we are here to add some science and rigour to the decision-making process,’ David said.

Project Status

Complete

Project outcomes and benefits

  • The NASA Robotic Conjunction Assessment Risk Analysis (CARA) is responsible for protecting all NASA satellites from catastrophic collisions. CARA has developed a concept for a Decision Support System (DSS) to assist satellite operators make collision avoidance decisions in real time.
  • Industrial Sciences Group will develop the concept into an operational tool. They will use advanced maths and statistics to analyse CARA’s data on previous collision warnings to develop a rigorous approach for assessing and acting on the risk of collision.
  • This new software has the potential to be a major contributor to space traffic management. The final outcome will be a decision support tool for satellite operators.
     

‘We are flying the Australian flag, and we hope to commercialise the software and extend its capability,’ David said. 

Connection to the Agency's strategic framework

This project supports the Australian Space Agency’s objectives of:

  • Opening doors internationally
  • Increasing national capability
  • Space situational awareness and debris monitoring.

Key Facts

  • Currently there are more than 20,000 satellites and pieces of debris tracked in orbit around the Earth.
  • Current tracking techniques can monitor space junk down to a size of 10cm in diameter.
  • These passive pieces of debris travel in different orbital altitudes at speeds of up to 28,000 kilometres per hour.
  • There are more than 2200 active satellites in Low Earth Orbit (LEO). These can move to avoid a collision, but this costs fuel, time and effort.
Black screen with dots all over it representing space debris

A visualisation of the space debris currently orbiting the Earth (debris size not to scale).

Four students from Emanuel School in Randwick, NSW behind David Shteinman from the , Industrial Sciences Group who is holding a globe of the world

David Shteinman, Industrial Sciences Group, talking to students at Emanuel School, Randwick, NSW about the Beresheet Lunar landing mission

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