LightForce Photon-Pressure Collision Avoidance: Updated Efficiency Analysis Utilizing a Highly Parallel Simulation Approach
NATIONAL AERONAUTICS AND SPACE ADMINISTRATION MOFFETT FIELD CA AMES RESEARCH CENTER
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This paper provides an updated efficiency analysis of the LightForce space debris collision avoidance scheme. LightForce aims to prevent collisions on warning by utilizing photon pressure from ground based, commercial off the shelf lasers. Past research has shown that a few ground-based systems consisting of 10 kW class lasers directed by 1.5 m telescopes with adaptive optics could lower the expected number of collisions in Low Earth Orbit LEO by an order of magnitude. Our simulation approach utilizes the entire Two Line Element TLE catalogue in LEO for a given day as initial input. Least-squares fitting of a TLE time series is used for an improved orbit estimate. We then calculate the probability of collision for all LEO objects in the catalogue for a time step of the simulation. The conjunctions that exceed a threshold probability of collision are then engaged by a simulated network of laser ground stations. After those engagements, the perturbed orbits are used to re-assess the probability of collision and evaluate the efficiency of the system. This paper describes new simulations with three updated aspects 1 By utilizing a highly parallel simulation approach employing hundreds of processors, we have extended our analysis to a much broader dataset. The simulation time is extended to one year. 2 We analyze not only the efficiency of LightForce on conjunctions that naturally occur, but also take into account conjunctions caused by orbit perturbations due to LightForce engagements. 3 We use a new simulation approach that is regularly updating the LightForce engagement strategy, as it would be during actual operations.