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Applied Optics

Applied Optics


  • Vol. 44, Iss. 3 — Jan. 20, 2005
  • pp: 423–433

Optical detection of rapidly moving objects in space

William Priedhorsky and Jeffrey J. Bloch  »View Author Affiliations

Applied Optics, Vol. 44, Issue 3, pp. 423-433 (2005)

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We compare the sensitivity of photon-counting and charged-coupled-device (CCD) imagers for rapidly moving objects. Our test case involves the detection of small objects in space, seen against a diffuse zodiacal light background, as observed from a space platform. We contrast photon-counting detectors, with excellent time resolution and negligible readout noise, against CCDs with a significantly larger quantum efficiency. For fast moving objects and small fields of view, the photon-counting detectors are able to detect significantly smaller targets, with the added benefit of providing angle–angle–time metric information in addition to high-time-resolution light curves. For larger fields of view and slower moving objects, the CCDs are more sensitive. These results may motivate the further development of microchannel-plate photon-counting systems and amplified CCDs for detecting and tracking space objects.

© 2005 Optical Society of America

OCIS Codes
(030.5260) Coherence and statistical optics : Photon counting
(040.1520) Detectors : CCD, charge-coupled device
(040.3780) Detectors : Low light level
(040.5250) Detectors : Photomultipliers
(350.1260) Other areas of optics : Astronomical optics
(350.6090) Other areas of optics : Space optics

Original Manuscript: May 17, 2004
Revised Manuscript: September 21, 2004
Manuscript Accepted: October 2, 2004
Published: January 20, 2005

William Priedhorsky and Jeffrey J. Bloch, "Optical detection of rapidly moving objects in space," Appl. Opt. 44, 423-433 (2005)

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