23 September 2014 Calibration of a system to collect visible-light polarization data for classification of geosynchronous satellites
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In order to protect critical military and commercial space assets, the United States Space Surveillance Network must have the ability to positively identify and characterize all space objects. Unfortunately, positive identification and characterization of space objects is a manual and labor intensive process today since even large telescopes cannot provide resolved images of most space objects. The objective of this study was to calibrate a system to exploit the optical signature of unresolved geosynchronous satellite images by collecting polarization data in the visible wavelengths for the purpose of revealing discriminating features. These features may lead to positive identification or classification of each satellite. The system was calibrated with an algorithm and process that takes raw observation data from a two-channel polarimeter and converts it to Stokes parameters S0 and S1. This instrumentation is a new asset for the United States Air Force Academy (USAFA) Department of Physics and consists of one 20-inch Ritchey-Chretien telescope and a dual focal plane system fed with a polarizing beam splitter. This study calibrated the system and collected preliminary polarization data on five geosynchronous satellites to validate performance. Preliminary data revealed that each of the five satellites had a different polarization signature that could potentially lead to identification in future studies.
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Andy Speicher, Andy Speicher, Mohammad Matin, Mohammad Matin, Roger Tippets, Roger Tippets, Francis Chun, Francis Chun, "Calibration of a system to collect visible-light polarization data for classification of geosynchronous satellites", Proc. SPIE 9223, Remote Sensing System Engineering V, 922308 (23 September 2014); doi: 10.1117/12.2062491; https://doi.org/10.1117/12.2062491

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