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NEWS: APS Receives USAF Contract For System to Help Spacecraft Avoid Space Debris
In order to avoid potential collisions with space debris, future spacecraft in geosynchronous (GEO) orbit may be required to detect all objects in their local environment and will be required to have 4pi steradian coverage. Unfortunately the sun can blind and/or damage current sensors if precautions are not built into the sensor. APS will use an ultra-narrowband filter (0.001 nm), called a Differential Doppler Imager (DDI), to reject the broadband blackbody spectrum of the sun. The DDI uses an atomic emission line from the sun itself as the illumination source for the object. The DDI is passively (naturally) locked to the chosen atomic line and only allows that line to pass through the optical system. Rejection of background light can be very high (enables imaging in solar disk) while maintaining high in band filter transmission. APS scientists will be using their unique atomic physics computer code to model the full optical system performance as part of the DDI system design process. Since the DDI uses the Doppler shift of atomic lines to reject background the device can also measure the line of sight velocity component of the debris.


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