Three-dimensional image reconstruction of satellites

Space debris is increasingly polluting Earth’s orbits and is threatening to destroy our satellite networks due to the steadily growing risk of satellite and space debris collisions. Adaptive optics technology presents an affordable solution to help identify the shape and structure of satellites and debris and measure their behaviour in the space environment


With the help of adaptive optics technology, this project aims to characterise low Earth orbit satellites and debris more precisely. By investigating three-dimensional imaging reconstruction algorithms the project will help create more knowledge about satellites and debris, so that their behaviour in the space environment can be examined further.


Real-time two-dimensional imaging data of satellites and debris are acquired by an adaptive optics imaging system on Mt Stromlo. The images are used to deduct the satellites’ and debris’ shape and attitude (the amount of spin and orientation). Three-dimensional reconstruction algorithms can be applied to the imaging data to create a three-dimensional model of the satellites and debris.

In this project, students will have the opportunity to test their data analysis skills and help develop and translate three-dimensional image reconstruction algorithms  for the application of satellite and debris imaging. Students will work under supervision by world leading instrument scientists and engineers at the Advanced Instrumentation and Technology Centre (AITC) on Mount Stromlo.

Undergraduate and postgraduate students with a strong interest in imaging and data analysis are welcome to contact the project supervisors to inquire about possible research projects, internships, and professional experience placements in the context of this project at the RSAA. Prior experience in at least two of the following disciplines is required: physics, optics/optical engineering, image or data analysis, image reconstruction, medical imaging, space engineering, instrumentation, computer science.