Isro’s inaugurates space object tracking centre


BENGALURU: The Indian Space Research Organization (Isro) on Wednesday formally declared its SSA (Space Situational Awareness) Control Centre in Bengaluru operational.

In view of the ever-growing population of space objects and the recent trend towards mega-constellations, SSA has become an integral and indispensable part of safe and sustainable space operations, Isro said adding it has been carrying out SSA activities, mainly focused on safeguarding India’s space assets for the last few decades.

“…Recognising the need for dedicated efforts to tackle the emerging challenges of operating in an exceedingly crowded and contested space domain, the Directorate of SSA and Management (DSSAM) has been established to engage in evolving improved operational mechanisms to protect space assets through effective coordination amongst Isro centres, other space agencies and international bodies, and establishment of necessary supporting infrastructures,” Isro said.

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The supporting infrastructure includes additional observation facilities for space object monitoring, and a control centre for centralized SSA activities.

“The NEtwork for space object TRacking and Analysis (NETRA) project is initiated as a first step towards meeting this goal, its main elements are radar, an optical telescope facility, and a control centre. The SSA Control Centre, “NETRA”, is within the ISTRAC campus at Peenya,” Isro added.

The centre reiterates the need for a state-of-the art facility dedicated to SSA on par with international agencies, Isro said, adding that the new centre is envisaged to function as a hub of all SSA activities within India.

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Concurrent processing of data from the upcoming observational facilities for space objects’ orbit determination, correlation and catalogue generation will take place here. There will be provision to schedule and remotely operate the observational facilities from the control centre.

“…Other core SSA activities will comprise close approach analysis between Isro’s satellite and launch vehicles, timely dissemination of advance alerts on upcoming critical conjunctions for collision avoidance of operational assets, prediction of atmospheric re-entry of derelict satellites and rocket bodies,” the space agency said.

Aside from this, dedicated labs will also be set up in this control centre for space debris mitigation and remediation, compliance verification of international guidelines and various R&D activities.
The R&D activities will encompass space object fragmentation and break up modelling, space debris population and micrometeoroid environment modelling, Space Weather studies, Near Earth Objects and planetary defence studies etc.