The Air Force Research Laboratory wants an automatic scheduling system for the ground-based telescopes in its Space Surveillance Network, which are used to observe orbiting satellites.
Current scheduling for telescopes takes into account whether the background light is bright enough to see a satellite, according to the Air Force small business innovation research solicitation. However, for satellites, the brightness is highly dependent on the orientation of the satellite and the solar phase angle —the angle between the sun and the satellite sensor. "Furthermore, our knowledge of the orbit is not precise enough for us to predict months in advance what the optimal viewing opportunities will be,” Air Force officials wrote in the solicitation.
AFRL wants an automated methodology to plan optimum times for observing satellites. It would include satellite radiometry, satellite orbital uncertainties, and atmospheric turbulence and scattering.