Improved Orbit Determination of LEO CubeSats: Project LEDsat

Cutler, J.; Seitzer, P.; Lee, C.H.; Washabaugh, P.; Sharma, S.; Gitten, R.; Piergentili, F.; Santoni, F.; Cardona, T.; Cialone, G.; Frezza, L.; Gianfermo, A.; Marzioli, P.; Masillo, S.; Pellegrino, A.; Schildknecht, Thomas; Bedard, D.; Cowardin, H. (September 2017). Improved Orbit Determination of LEO CubeSats: Project LEDsat. In: Advanced Maui Optical and Space Surveillance Technologies (AMOS) Conference. Curran Associates

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Project LEDsat is an international project (USA, Italy, and Canada) designed to improve the identification and orbit determination of CubeSats in low Earth orbit (LEO). The goal is to fly CubeSats with multiple methods of measuring positions on the same spacecraft: GPS, optical tracking, satellite laser ranging (SLR), and radio tracking. These satellites will be equipped with light emitting diodes (LEDs) for optical tracking while the satellite is in Earth shadow. It will be possible to compare the orbits determined from different methods to examine the systematic and random errors associated with each method. Furthermore, if each LEDsat has a different flash pattern, then it will be possible to distinguish closely spaced satellites shortly after deployment. The Sapienza University
of Rome 3U CubeSat URSA MAIOR with LEDs and retro-reflectors was launched in June 2017 and is working on orbit. Sapienza has designed a 1U CubeSat follow-on mission dedicated to LED tracking, which was selected for possible launch in 2018 in the European Space Agency's (ESA) 'Fly Your Satellite' program. The University of Michigan is
designing a 3U version with LEDs, GPS receiver, SLR, and radio tracking. The Royal Military College of Canada (RMC) is leading a Canadian effort for a LEDsat mission as well. All three organizations have a program of testing LEDs for space use to predict the effects of the LEO space environment.

Item Type:

Conference or Workshop Item (Paper)


08 Faculty of Science > Institute of Astronomy

UniBE Contributor:

Schildknecht, Thomas


500 Science > 520 Astronomy




Curran Associates




Alessandro Vananti

Date Deposited:

08 Dec 2017 08:56

Last Modified:

11 Feb 2019 12:24

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