Debunking space debris with a specialist satellite
Revolutionising space sustainability: ADLER-2, the second-generation in-situ mission to tackle space debris with innovative nanosatellite technologies
Adler is a satellite that was launched by Spire and the Austrian Space Forum (OeWF) in a first-of-its-kind in-situ SSA (space situational awareness) mission aimed to gather debris data in orbit. ADLER-1 was the first attempt ever to calculate miniature debris and will soon be safely deorbited, while it makes way for the next in its generation, ADLER-2. ADLER-2 is a second-generation in-orbit space debris detector, which is expected to help increase the debris detection rate by 80%, leveraging an innovative debris detection radar with a larger antenna and increased detection range, predicted to double the number of observations logged. The satellite’s radar device and impact sensor are intended to track micro space debris in Earth orbit at an altitude of around 500 km.
As space activity increases, so too does the amount of debris in Earth’s orbit, endangering the satellites that power much of modern life and threatening future space exploration. The challenge is to accurately monitor and analyse orbiting space debris and junk in real-time, especially small fragments that can pose a threat to satellites and astronauts. The current methods of monitoring using second-hand sources, computer models, and optical detectors are limited.
The Austrian Space Forum (OeWF) and Spire have collaborated to develop a second-generation in-orbit space debris detector called ADLER-2 that will increase debris detection rate by 80% and supplement existing computer models. The project utilises nanosatellite technologies, and Spire’s ‘Space as a Service’ option eliminates the high upfront cost of building and maintaining space infrastructure. The ADLER-2 will carry a remote sensing payload to study clouds and aerosols in the atmosphere and track micro space debris in Earth orbit at an altitude of around 500 km.
The ADLER-2 is a world-leading solution for the accurate monitoring of space debris, which aims to increase debris detection rate by 80% and supplement existing computer models.
The ADLER-2 is a fully flexible “Space as a Service” option that offers a ready-to-go orbiting platform for state-of-the-art data gathering technology, eliminating the need for developing costly and time-consuming in-orbit infrastructure.
The results expected from the ADLER-2 project are an increased debris detection rate, double the number of observations logged, and a more precise picture regarding space debris in Earth orbit. The ADLER-2 nanosatellite will also carry a remote sensing payload to study clouds and aerosols in the atmosphere.
The ADLER-2 project is a successful example of cooperation between companies and research organisations, each delivering on their specialist element to form a powerful combination.