SORA: Spectrometry Observation for Reflectivity Analysis
SORA is a new satellite currently in it’s design phase. It’s a 12U cubesat that will be launched into low earth orbit to gather light data on space debris in either geostationary or low earth orbit. This light data, like the kind collected from our GLADOS satellite, can be used to classify space debris, as well as to characterize the size, shape, and material properties of space debris.Why Space Debris?
Why Space Debris?
Military and commercial industries rely on space assets such as GPS and communication satellites for their day-to- day operations. However, the exponential increase in space debris over the years poses a risk to these assets. Space debris colliding with satellites has already proven catastrophic: in 2013 a Russian satellite named BLITS was destroyed after colliding with leftover debris from a purposefully-destroyed Chinese satellite. Data gathered from SORA can be used to protect this space infrastructure and improve Space Domain Awareness (SDA)
Work on SORA started in January 2016 for the Air Force Research Laboratory’s University Nanosatellite Program (AFRL UNP) 10. SORA builds upon GLADOS’ mission by flying a spectrometer, rather than a visible and near-IR camera. This allows us to use diffused light, a much more common source than glinting light. We’re rapidly approaching our Preliminary Design Review, scheduled for January 2017, where the AFRL will visit us in Buffalo for a hands-on review of the current design of SORA.