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UCF develops algorithms for space and sea exploration
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UCF develops algorithms for space and sea exploration
by Clarence Oxford
Los Angeles CA (SPX) May 21, 2024

Cislunar space, extending from the Earth to just beyond the moon's orbit, is poised for increased activity in the next decade. NASA's Artemis missions and international participation in the cislunar space race highlight the need for improved tracking and prediction of objects such as asteroids and satellites to avoid collisions with spacecraft.

The current space domain awareness (SDA) infrastructure, primarily Earth-based, struggles with the vast expanse of cislunar space. "Cislunar space is vast," says Tarek Elgohary, an associate professor of aerospace engineering. "The current SDA infrastructure, which is mostly Earth-based, is not equipped to provide the needed coverage in cislunar space. There is a need for fast and accurate solutions to quantify uncertainties to improve predictions and provide SDA information in the absence of continuous coverage."

Elgohary's team, supported by a $350,000 grant from the Air Force Office of Scientific Research Dynamic Data and Information Processing Program, aims to address these challenges. They plan to develop a computational framework for real-time tracking of space objects, enabling spacecraft and satellites like the Air Force Research Laboratory's Oracle to operate autonomously without Earth-based intervention.

These algorithms also hold potential for maritime domain awareness (MDA). Similar to tracking space debris, watercraft need to identify other vessels, predict their trajectories, and detect suspicious behavior in real time.

"Space and maritime domains share a lot of similarities in terms of the lack of continuous coverage of spacecraft or vessels, the large size of the search domain, and the need for the capability to predict maneuvers," Elgohary explains. "Maritime domain awareness may require shorter time scales; however, with the expansion of space missions, space domain awareness operations have been reduced from weeks and days to hours and minutes."

Elgohary will leverage his expertise in space to create a similar framework for maritime applications. The algorithms for uncertainty quantifications will enhance MDA by allowing sea vessels to detect objects in real time and predict their future locations.

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