LEO Scope™ The Definitive Space Domain Awareness Telescope / Camera

It's not an evolution, it's a revolution! Unlike any previous telescope, with the combination of field of view and photographic speed, the LEO Scope™ and LEO Comm™ products will leave your jaw on the floor! It's hard to shock those of us at DFM who have been in the telescope business for decades, but our latest product has done exactly that. Created to address the growing needs of Space Situational Awareness (SSA), DFM Engineering has created an entirely new type of telescope. While it may bear some resemblance to our previous telescopes, the performance is out of this world!

You can see our LEO Scope™ track MEO, and LEO satellites in our product video.

After upgrading the Modular Precision Absolute Control System (MPACS) for US Spaceforce's Ground-based Electro-Optical Deep Space Surveillance System (GEODSS), DFM was tasked with creating the next generation Space Domain Awareness (SDA) telescope that would rival the world's finest and most relied upon systems.  DFM Engineering rose to the challenge and built a design optimized for autonomous use, scaled deployment, and with world-class Pointing, Acquisition, and Tracking (PAT) - it's even compatible with the GEODSS Sensor Control Group (SCG) software.

An equatorial mount was chosen as they have been shown to be best at SSA as tracking utilizes the standard celestial coordinate system. The limitations of tracking through the celestial pole is typically not a problem as these tracks are rare, and can be compensated for when operating within a distributed array.

LEO satellite acquisition and tracking is not easy.  The Two Line Element (TLE) set describing the orbital elements is often not very accurate, particularly with LEO satellites, which are at the lowest altitude and are most affected by the earth’s mass concentrations.  TLEs do give reasonable tracking speeds, with position and velocity. Our SatTrack software, in development for over 35 years, takes the velocity data and generates an acceleration from it.  There’s no use in going fast if you can’t control the acceleration. In terms of numbers, in degrees per second and degrees per second squared, the acceleration term, you want these numbers to be about the same – so that it gets up to speed in about one second.

Velocity feed forward is key to accurately driving the servo control system.  When tracking at greater than 1000 arcseconds per second, time errors need to be measured in milliseconds.  Small time errors can lead to a large position error.  This often necessitates a larger Field Of View (FOV) in order to better frame fit for obtaining better position data for the objects, making large FOV an important attribute for Space Situational Awareness (SSA).

LEO Scope™ Specifications:

  • Offers a large 4.4-degree FOV
  • F/1.7 fast focal ratio increases brightness and contrast allowing for rapid imaging of dim objects - particularly useful when used in combination with 'Lucky Imaging'
  • 26-inch (66cm) aperture telescope / camera provides unrivalled positioning accuracy of small, dim and far away objects for SDA and space control during the day and night.
  • Ximea sCMOS detector (with 6144 X 6144 X 10 µm pixels, 86.8-mm across the diagonal, up to 46fps, 95% Quantum Efficiency, full well capacity above 110ke-, 12 and 16-bit modes)
  • low inertia and high stiffness mount to track at LEO rates which can often exceed 10-degrees per second
  • 26-bit absolute on-axis position encoders allow very precise tracking
  • very accurate pointing - typically better than 10 arc seconds rms on the sky above a zenith distance of 70-degrees

Be sure to check out our LEO Scope™ LEO Comm™ product video to see it's actual performance!

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