In many spatial systems, image is a core technology to fulfil the mission requirements. Depending on the application, the
needs and the constraints are different and imaging systems can offer a large variety of configurations in terms of
wavelength, resolution, field-of-view, focal length or sensitivity. Adequate image processing algorithms allow the
extraction of the needed information and the interpretation of images.
As a prime contractor for many major civil or military projects, Astrium ST is very involved in the proposition,
development and realization of new image-based techniques and systems for space-related purposes. Among the
different applications, space surveillance is a major stake for the future of space transportation. Indeed, studies show that
the number of debris in orbit is exponentially growing and the already existing population of small and medium debris is
a concrete threat to operational satellites. This paper presents Astrium ST activities regarding space surveillance for
space situational awareness (SSA) and space traffic management (STM). Among other possible SSA architectures, the
relevance of a ground-based optical station network is investigated. The objective is to detect and track space debris and
maintain an exhaustive and accurate catalogue up-to-date in order to assess collision risk for satellites and space vehicles.
The system is composed of different type of optical stations dedicated to specific functions (survey, passive tracking,
active tracking), distributed around the globe. To support these investigations, two in-house operational breadboards
were implemented and are operated for survey and tracking purposes.
This paper focuses on Astrium ST end-to-end optical-based survey concept. For the detection of new debris, a network of
wide field of view survey stations is considered: those stations are able to detect small objects and associated image
processing (detection and tracking) allow a preliminary restitution of their orbit.