December 6, 2019

AAE Colloquium: Thomas Schildknecht

Event Date: December 6, 2019
Hosted By: AAE
Time: 10:30 a.m.
Location: ARMS 1028
Priority: Yes
School or Program: Aeronautics and Astronautics
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Observing and Characterizing Space Debris at the SwissOGS

Thomas Schildknecht
Director of Swiss Optical Ground Station and Geodynamics Observatory Zimmerwald

Abstract

The proliferation of space debris and the increased probability of collisions and interference raise concerns about the long-term sustainability of space activities, particularly in the low-Earth orbit and geostationary orbit environments. During recent years governments, space agencies and civilian research organizations increased their efforts to build space object catalogues and to investigate the space debris population in different orbit regions. Understanding the nature and the sources of debris is a prerequisite to provide the scientific foundation for a sustainable use of near-Earth space.

This presentation will describe current space debris research activities to detect and characterize space debris at the Swiss Optical Ground Station and Geodynamics Observatory Zimmerwald. In particular, optical techniques to detect track and characterize space objects including small-size debris will be presented and illustrated with examples from the long-standing observation programs of the Astronomical Institute of the University of Bern (AIUB).

Bio

Dr. Thomas Schildknecht is the director of the Swiss Optical Ground Station and Geodynamics Observatory Zimmerwald and is leading the Optical Astronomy Group of the Astronomical Institute of the University of Bern, Switzerland. His research combines an interest in astrodynamics and optical survey observations, with particular emphasis on space debris and space situational awareness. He has more than 25 years of experience in space debris research and established a research group that asserts a world-leading position in optical space debris surveillance and characterization. In this context, he conducted numerous European Space Agency (ESA) studies for the optical detection of space debris and Space Situational Awareness in general. He is a member of the ESA delegation in the Inter-Agency Space Debris Coordination Committee (IADC), a member of the Swiss delegation in UNCOPUOS and the Chair of the ESA Space Situational Awareness Advisory Group, advising the ESA Director responsible for the Space Safety (SSA) programme.