Vol 12, No 2

The use of laser ranging to measure space debris

Zhong-Ping Zhang, Fu-Min Yang, Hai-Feng Zhang, Zhi-Bo Wu, Ju-Ping Chen, Pu Li, Wen-Dong Meng


Abstract Space debris is a major problem for all the nations that are currently active in space. Adopting high-precision measuring techniques will help produce a reliable and accurate catalog for space debris and collision avoidance. Laser ranging is a kind of real-time measuring technology with high precision for space debris observation. The first space-debris laser-ranging experiment in China was performed at the Shanghai Observatory in July 2008 with a ranging precision of about 60–80 cm. The experimental results showed that the return signals from the targets with a range of 900 km were quite strong, with a power of 40W (2J at 20Hz) using a 10ns pulse width laser at 532nm wavelength. The performance of the preliminary laser ranging system and the observed results in 2008 and 2010 are also introduced.


Keywords astrometry — catalogs — space debris — laser ranging — observation

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