Georgia Tech Space Object Research Telescope


Rigorous, scholarly SSA research is uniquely hampered by a chronic and severe lack of direct observational data that a) is specific to the research problem at hand and b) will pass public release reviews at funding agencies. This problem is exacerbated by the fact that, by and large, the vast majority of space object data collection is performed by the United States SSN. To address this problem, Prof. Holzinger has constructed the Georgia Tech Space Object Research Telescope (GT-SORT), a Raven-class space surveillance telescope (0.5m, f/8) capable of directly observing on-orbit space objects and validating algorithm performance. This facility is the only completed telescope facility at a non-military US academic institution specifically designed & constructed to collect data in support of SSA research, providing Dr. Holzinger's research group a substantial competitive advantage.

Echostar 11

Currently submitted research enabled by GT-SORT includes photometric lightcurve inversion efforts, wherein the orientation of space objects is estimated using time-resolved brightness measurements. Dr. Holzinger's lab has also begun to investigate autonomous networks of space surveillance assets, leveraging GT-SORT as a robotic telescope platform. Data collected using this facility will also be integrated in to Dr. Holzinger's Spaceflight Mechanics (AE4310), Orbital Mechanics (AE 6353), and Advanced Orbital Mechanics (AE 6354) courses, where students will use data for initial orbit determination algorithms.

GT-SORT is one of the telescopes in the Georgia Tech Observatory, and is used by the public in regularly scheduled outreach events.

The weather station installed at the observatory takes real-time measurements, which are available here.

See the some images of the installation process and current images of the completed facility.