Daytime Satellite Tracking

Ground-based optical observation of satellites during local daytime is now possible thanks to Numerica’s daytime satellite tracking technology.

In the past, the bright sky limited ground-based telescopes to nighttime-only operation, creating a gap in gathering and analyzing vital space data for military, civil and commercial interests. Now, Numerica has made a groundbreaking development in space object detection and tracking by developing and deploying the first fully functional, low-cost telescope systems that can observe Earth-orbiting satellites in broad daylight at altitudes of more than 36,000 kilometers (22,000 miles).

This patented technology is the result of several years of internal research and development efforts to meet the growing demand for daytime satellite observation given the increasingly congested and contested space environment.

Initial testing proved these systems to be capable of detecting objects from low Earth orbit (LEO) to geosynchronous orbit (GEO) both day and night. Numerica received a U.S. patent on Aug. 11, 2020, for detecting such space objects using shortwave infrared (SWIR) sensors during daytime hours without the use of cryogenic cooling components, a notable time and cost-saving alternative to existing approaches under development.

Numerica Daytime Satellite Tracking

LEO to GEO 24/7

Daytime optical tracking represents a major innovation for the commercial space domain awareness market, increasing the observation opportunities on LEO satellites to GEO satellites and enabling the potential for a global network of low-cost telescopes to maintain custody of satellites through the current daylight coverage gap.

  • World’s first ever daytime optical tracking service
  • Demonstrated tracking of satellites from LEO to GEO at extreme solar elevations
  • Data-as-a-service and sensor systems available commercially
  • Now available commercially for use on custom-built telescope systems

Until now, there has not been a daytime tracking solution capable of global proliferation, let alone a commercial daytime tracking service. Closing the ground-based optical coverage gap will significantly enhance space domain awareness and space traffic management missions.

Jeff Aristoff, VP of Space Systems at Numerica

Daytime Optical Tracking Technology Features

  • Enabled by high-speed shortwave infrared cameras, customized optics & advanced algorithms;
  • Observes Earth-orbiting satellites in broad daylight at altitudes of more than 36,000 kilometers (22,000 miles);
  • Detects space objects using shortwave infrared (SWIR) sensors during daytime hours without the use of cryogenic cooling components;
  • Collects 15 GB/minute & applies image processing algorithms that fuse the data to reduce noise to near theoretical limits;
  • Trial satellite observation data available from the integration of the daytime tracking systems with the broader Numerica Telescope Network (NTN) comprised of more than 130+ optical sensors spanning 20+ sites worldwide.

Numerica continues to mature this technology and integrate additional systems with its existing global telescope network.