Date of Award

8-2013

Degree Name

MS in Aerospace Engineering

Department

Aerospace Engineering

Advisor

Kira Abercromby

Abstract

This thesis demonstrates that any individual can provide relevant observational data to further research efforts within the Aerospace community, through the use of amateur telescopes. A Meade LX200 12 in. telescope and Lumenera Skynyx 2.0 camera were utilized to observe small LEO satellites, using a well-documented point-and-wait staring method. Over a period of three months, a total of 186 observation attempts were made resulting in 97 successful captures. From the gathered data, three possible aerospace applications were analyzed: validation of a satellite brightness prediction model, angles-only orbit determination including extended Kalman filtering, and temporal error growth in TLE-based orbit propagation. Further investigations include a preliminary optimization using MATLAB's fmincon function (informed by the previous analyses) to determine an optimal telescope size for performing LEO observations.

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