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59th International Astronautical Congress
Glasgow, Scotland, 29 September - 3 October 2008

Standard approaches used for the integrated work with ISON network

Igor Molotov, Vladimir Agapov, Vladimir Kouprianov

Keldysh Institute of Applied Mathematics
Pulkovo observatory
Russian Academy of Sciences

International scientific optical network

ISON is an open international non-government project mainly aimed at being a free source of information on space objects for scientific analysis.

The ISON network

  • 19 observing facilities in 9 states (Bolivia, Georgia, Moldova, Russia, Spain (ESA), Switzerland (AIUB), Tajikistan, Ukraine, Uzbekistan) with 24 telescopes
  • Four supporting groups for:
    • observation planning and data processing
    • electric and software engineering
    • optical and mount engineering
    • network development
  • Keldysh Institute of Applied Mathematics (KIAM) of the RAS coordinates the project and maintains the space object database

Characteristics of the ISON telescopes

Observatory Telescope CCD FOV m
Nauchnij -1 2.6-m ZTSh 1k x 1k, 24 8,4' x 8,4' 21,0
Nauchnij -1 64-cm AT-64 4k x 4k, 9 1 x 1 18,0
Nauchnij -1 22-cm RS-220 4k x 4k, 9 4 x 4 16,0
Nauchnij -2 22-cm RS-220 3k x 3k, 12 4 x 4 16,3
Zimmerwald ZIMLAT-1000 3k x 3k, 12 23' x 23' 20,0
Tenerife ESASDT 4k x 4k 0,7 x 0,7 21,0
Simeiz Zeiss-1000 1k x 1k, 24 13' x 13' 19,0
Pulkovo 22-cm RS-220 3k x 3k, 12 4 x 4 14,5
Mayaki 60-cm RC-600 1k x 1k, 24 17' x 17' 17,0
Tiraspol 22-cm RS-220 3k x 3k, 12 4 x 4 15,0
Terskol Zeiss-2000 512 x 512 8' x 8' 21,0
Abastumani 22-cm ORI-22 3k x 3k, 9 4 x 4 15,5
Abastumani 70-cm AS-32 3k x 2k, 9 45' x 30' 18,0
Mondy 1.6-m AZT-33IK 1k x 1k, 16 8' x 8' 21,0
Kitab 22-cm ORI-22 2k x 2k, 24 5,5 x 5,5 15,5
Gissar 70-cm AZT-8 1k x 1k, 24 30' x 30' 18,0
Blagoveschensk 22-cm ORI-22 1k x 1k, 24 2,6 x 2,6 15,5
Ussuriysk 22-cm ORI-22 3k x 3k, 12 4 x 4 15,5
Ussuriysk 25-cm GAS-250 3k x 2k, 9 1 x 2 15,5
Milkovo 22-cm ORI-22 3k x 3k, 12 4 x 4 15,5
Tarija 23-cm astrogr. 1k x 1k, 24 35' x 35' 14,0

The problem of the first ISON stage:

KIAM database need in large quantity of standard measurements while used telescopes can not provide this

Obsolete telescopes were inappropriate for space debris tracking: small FOV, not-automated mount, not precise time keeping, etc.

Observatory staff lacked the necessary experience and used various types of software for CCD image processing.

Therefore the first stage of ISON modernization (purchasing the CCD-cameras) did not cause the expected effect on measurement rate.

Proposed standard solutions

  • standard time keeping hardware
  • standard software for CCD frames reduction
  • full set of software modules for control of all devices
  • enlarging FOV by means of:
    • purchasing CCD cameras of new series
    • production of dedicated telescopes
    • production of corrector for existing telescopes
  • improving the tracking by means of:
    • automation of existing mounts
    • purchasing of automated mounts
    • production of dedicated mounts
  • dividing all telescopes into three dedicated subsets
  • developing standard observation modes - survey, search, tracking
  • arranging of training courses and annual workshops for lectures and experience exchange
  • establishing new observing facilities

Standard hardware and software approaches

  • 30 time keeping device on base of the Trimble resolution T GPS receiver board were produced for precise determination of CCD frame capture moment and utilizing the trigger mode of the CCD shutter
  • software modules under common platform for control of GPS receiver (AccuTime module), CCD camera (CameraControl module), telescope mount (CHAOS module) were elaborated
  • Apex II software package for astrometric and photometric reduction of the CCD frames is used at 20 observation points
  • Apex II provides calibration of CCD frames, detection of space objects, differential astrometry and photometry using stellar catalogs, identification of detected space objects using catalog of orbits, checking of the internal accuracy of measurements

Enlarging FOV of ISON telescopes

  • 15 FLI CCD cameras of PL and ML series were purchased for re-equipment of ISON telescopes in Pulkovo (RST-220), Nauchniy-1 (ZTSh, AT- 64 and RST-220), Nauchniy-2 (RST-220), Tiraspol (RST-220), Andrushevka (S-600), Abastumani (ORI-22), Kitab (ORI-22 and VT-15), Gissar (AZT-8), Ussuriysk (ORI-50 and ORI-22 ), Milkovo (ORI-22), Tarija (ORI-22)
  • 10 telescopes of 22 cm aperture with FOV 4 (RST-220 in Pulkovo, Nauchniy-1, Nauchniy-2, Tiraspol; and ORI-22 in Kitab, Ussuriysk, Abastumani, Milkovo, Blagoveschensk, Tarija), one 50-cm ORI-50 with FOV 2.5 in Ussuriysk and one 12,5 VT-15 with FOV 15 in Kitab were produced
  • 4 lens correctors were produced for RC-600 in Mayaki, S-600 in Andrushevka, Zeiss-600 in Tarija, Zeiss-600 in Sanglok

Improving the tracking capabilities

  • old mounts of RST-220 in Pulkovo, AT-64 and PH-1 in Nauchniy-1 and S-600 in Andrushevka were already automated
  • two WS-240GT (up to 80 kg) for new 40-cm telescopes in Tiraspol and Krasnoyarsk and one WS-300 (up to 150 kg) for ORI-50 in Ussuriysk mounts were produced
  • six EQ6Pro mounts (up to 25 kg) were purchased for RST-220 in Tiraspol, ORI-22 in Milkovo, ORI-22 in Blagoveshchensk, ORI-22 in Ussuriysk, ORI-22 in Kitab, ORI-22 in Tarija

1. Global GEO Search and Survey Subsystem for regular surveying of the GEO and GTO objects down to 15,5m from 10 telescopes of 22-cm with FOV of 4 x 4

2. Subsystem for high altitude faint (15.5m to 20m) space debris detection and tracking from telescopes of 0.6-m to 2.6-m

3. Subsystem for monitoring of the objects on HEO, MEO and LEO orbits from cameras with FOV of 15and 25 40-cm aperture telescopes on quick mounts

Telescopes put into operation during the last year

ISON telescopes under development

Results of ISON standard approaches using:
quantity of measurements increased in 8 times for 2 years

Statistics of the ISON measurements from 2003 to 2008 years for the all measurements (upper line) and measurements for faint fragments only (bottom line).

330000 measurements in 41000tracks across the whole GEO belt (360), were obtained ISON during Jan.-Aug.2008

Parameter ISON statistics for 2008
January February March April May June July August
Observing nights 30 28 31 29 31 30 31 31
Quantity of tracks 7077 5212 4858 4838 4826 5294 3602 4053
Common duration of all tracks (hours) 1627 2402 872 899 925 908 552 899
Average duration of tracks (min) 14 15 11 11 11 10 9 13
Quantity of measurements 49053 39751 34391 42750 48880 55568 35717 38932
Average quantity of measurements in track 7 8 8 9 10 11 10 10
Quantity of observed space objects 1200 972 1008 1060 1064 1051 824 961
Average quantity of tracks for space objects 6 6 5 5 5 5 4 4
Average quantity of mea-surements for space objects 40 40 34 41 47 50 44 40
Covered GEO arc (degree) 330 228 360 360 360 360 360 360

ISON monthly discovery rate of faint fragments

Average discovery rate is 14-15 fragments per month since May 2006

Plans for 2009

  1. Few more observatories will join to the projects:
    • Rozhen in Bulgaria (Zeiss-2000, 65-cm Schmidt), trial observations of fragments were already arranged;
    • Shamakhy in Azerbaijan (Zeiss-2000, 70-cm AZT-8);
    • Evpatoria in Crimea, Ukraine (70-cm AZT-8), series of observations of fragment were arranged under IADC campaigns;
    • Krasnoyarsk in Siberia (40-cm ORI-40, 15-cm refractor);
    • Noto (25-cm ORI-25) in Italy
  2. Series of telescopes will be produced four 40-cm ORI-40, ten 25-cm ORI-25, second 12.5-cm objective
  3. Three Zeiss-600 telescopes will be modernized in Tarija (Bolivia), Simeiz (Crimea, Ukraine) and Sanglok (Tajikistan)
  4. To put into full operation of all three ISON subsets, in first turn subset from ten 22-cm telescopes for automatic survey of GEO and GTO objects


  • New optical network, ISON, is in operation since 2005 and reached global coverage in 2008
  • Standard approaches allowed to increase the quantity of measurements in 8 times for two years (330000 measurements for 8 months of 2008)
  • It is planned that ISON measurements rate will increase in 4 times during 2009

5 2008

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