Improving orbital uncertainty realism through covariance determination in GEO Articles uri icon

publication date

  • October 2022

start page

  • 1394

end page

  • 1420


  • 5


  • 69

International Standard Serial Number (ISSN)

  • 0021-9142


  • The reliability of the uncertainty characterization, also known as uncertainty realism, is of the uttermost importance for Space Situational Awareness (SSA) services. Among the different sources of uncertainty related to the orbits of Resident Space Objects (RSOs), the uncertainty of dynamic models is one of the most relevant ones, although it is not always included in orbit determination processes. A classical approach to account for these sources of uncertainty is the consider parameters theory, which consists in including parameters in the underlying dynamical models whose variance aims to represent the uncertainty of the system. However, realistic variances of these consider parameters are not known a-priori. This work presents a method to infer the variance of the consider parameters, based on the distribution of the Mahalanobis distance of the orbital differences between predicted and estimated orbits, which theoretically shall follow a X2 distribution under Gaussian assumption. This paper presents results in a simulated scenario focusing on Geostationary (GEO) regimes. The effectiveness and traceability of the uncertainty sources is assessed via covariance realism metrics.


  • Biology and Biomedicine
  • Computer Science
  • Economics
  • Electronics
  • Industrial Engineering
  • Psychology
  • Telecommunications


  • chi-square distribution; covariance determination; covariance realism; mahalanobis distance; space situational awareness; uncertainty realism