Original Article

Celestial Mechanics and Dynamical Astronomy

, Volume 107, Issue 1, pp 169-185

First online:

Innovative methods of correlation and orbit determination for space debris

  • Davide FarnocchiaAffiliated withDepartment of Mathematics, University of Pisa Email author 
  • , Giacomo TommeiAffiliated withDepartment of Mathematics, University of Pisa
  • , Andrea MilaniAffiliated withDepartment of Mathematics, University of Pisa
  • , Alessandro RossiAffiliated withISTI/CNR

Rent the article at a discount

Rent now

* Final gross prices may vary according to local VAT.

Get Access


We propose two algorithms to provide a full preliminary orbit of an Earth-orbiting object with a number of observations lower than the classical methods, such as those by Laplace and Gauss. The first one is the Virtual debris algorithm, based upon the admissible region, that is the set of the unknown quantities corresponding to possible orbits for a given observation for objects in Earth orbit (as opposed to both interplanetary orbits and ballistic ones). A similar method has already been successfully used in recent years for the asteroidal case. The second algorithm uses the integrals of the geocentric 2-body motion, which must have the same values at the times of the different observations for a common orbit to exist. We also discuss how to account for the perturbations of the 2-body motion, e.g., the J 2 effect.


Space debris Orbit determination Admissible region Keplerian integrals Virtual debris algorithm Radar attributable Linkage