Satellite maneuver detection and estimation with optical survey observations Articles uri icon

publication date

  • June 2022


  • 3


  • 69

International Standard Serial Number (ISSN)

  • 0021-9142


  • (copyright) 2022, The Author(s).Maneuver detection and estimation is deemed crucial for maintaining catalogs of Resident Space Objects (RSOs) as it helps to avoid sets of duplicated objects and track correlation issues. In fact, maneuvers, along with launches and break-up events, are the main source of potential new object detections during RSOs cataloging activities. For the continuous and reliable provision of Space Situational Awareness (SSA) and Space Traffic Management (STM) services, a challenging trade-off between detection time and characterization accuracy of maneuvers needs to be performed. In this paper, two novel and operationally feasible methodologies are proposed for maneuver detection and estimation. The first, a track-to-orbit methodology, uses a pre-maneuver orbit to linearize the dynamics and estimate the single burn that minimizes the residuals of the post-maneuver tracks. The second, an orbit-to-orbit methodology, estimates the double burn that solves a minimization problem between the pre-maneuver and post-maneuver orbits. Both methods, based on an optimal control approach, are not only proposed to tackle the maneuver estimation problem but also to be integrated on operational and robust association frameworks. Results are presented for optical scenarios with both simulated and real data, providing insightful conclusions on the capabilities, performance and limitations of the proposed methods. Particular emphasis is given to the importance of the track association, since a single track is usually not enough to perform a reliable estimation of the maneuver. Besides, the capability of the methods to provide a solution to the association problem, even when not perfectly characterizing the true maneuver, is discussed.


  • maneuver detection; maneuver estimation; optical observations; orbit-to-orbit; track-to-orbit