NEOSSat’s Dual Mission – HEOSS

DND/DRDC’s goal is to use NEOSSat to demonstrate the ability of microsatellites to perform a militarily useful mission. The mission in this case is to obtain satellite position/time data (“metrics”) to assist in keeping the US Satellite catalog current (“catalog maintenance”). NEOSSat’s optical telescope will be used to perform research to demonstrate and assess the ability of the microsatellite to track RSOs (Resident Space Objects); these are Earth-orbiting satellites, rocket bodies and debris with altitudes > 15,000 km (“deep space”).

Currently there are ~2500 objects in this category, including GNSS (Global Navigation Satellite System) constellations and Geostationary satellites. HEOSS is a two phase mission where the first year after spacecraft commissioning is dedicated to proving microsatellite based SofS (Surveillance of Space) experimentation. In the subsequent years of the mission, the HEOSS time could be used for further experimentation or, potentially, to transition the HEOSS time allocation to an operational Space Surveillance role where taskings are controlled by the Canadian military.

NEOSSat was being designed such that it can detect objects having apparent brightness down to astronomical magnitudes Mv ~13.5, translating to a ~3 m RSO observed at a range of 40,000 km. NEOSSat will be able to track objects moving at angular rates up to 60 arcseconds/second (arcsec/s). This extremely high rate of motion of Earth orbiting objects causes the apparent sensitivity difference between the NESS and HEOSS missions. Asteroid integration dwell times per pixel are two orders of magnitude larger for a given image. During RSO observations, the sensor will be able to obtain full images at a rate of one image every 30 seconds, with smaller portions of the CCD being available at faster rates. The metric accuracy goal of HEOSS is to produce measurements accurate to within 3 arcsec (~600 m in the plane of the sky at geostationary satellite ranges).