Westminster, CO – Advanced Space LLC., a leading space tech solutions company, is pleased to announce that an Advanced Space-led team has been chosen to apply Machine Learning (ML) capabilities to detect, track and characterize space debris for the IARPA Space Debris Identification and Tracking (SINTRA) program.
Space debris—items due to human activity in space—presents a major hazard to space operations. Advanced Space and its teammates Orion Space Solutions and ExoAnalytic Solutions are applying advanced ML techniques to finding and identifying small debris (0.1-10 cm) under a new Space Debris Identification and Tracking (SINTRA) contract from Intelligence Advanced Research Projects Activity (IARPA).
“Space debris is an exponentially growing problem that threatens all activity in space, which Congress is now recognizing as critical infrastructure,” said Principal Investigator Nathan Ré. “The well-known Kessler syndrome will inevitably make Earth orbit unusable unless we mitigate it, and the first step is developing the capability to maintain persistent knowledge of the debris population. Through our participation in the SINTRA program, our team aims to revolutionize the global space community’s knowledge of the space debris problem.”
Currently, there are over 100 million objects greater than 1 mm orbiting the Earth; however, less than 1 percent of the debris that could cause mission-ending damage are currently tracked. The Advanced Space team’s solution—the Multi-source Extended-Range Mega-scale AI Debris (MERMAID) system—will feature a sensing system to gather data; ground data processing incorporating ML models to observe, detect, and characterize debris below the threshold of traditional methods; and a catalog of this information. A key component of this solution is that the team will use ML methods to decrease the Signal-to-Noise-Ratio (SNR) required for detecting debris signatures in traditional optical and radar data.
Advanced Space CEO Bradley Cheetham said, “Monitoring orbital debris is critical to the sustainable, exploration, development and settlement of space. We are proud of the work the team is doing to advance the state of the art by bringing scale and automation to this challenge.”