Office of Scientific and International Cooperation

Abstract: Satellite conjunctions involving `near misses’ of space objects are becoming increasingly likely.  One approach to risk analysis for them involves the computation of the collision probability, but this has been regarded as having some counter-intuitive properties and its interpretation has been debated.  This talk describes an approach to satellite conjunction based on a simple statistical model and discusses inference on the miss distance between the two objects, both when the relative velocity can be taken as known and when its uncertainty must be taken into account. We see that the usual collision probability estimate can be badly biased, but that highly accurate inference on the miss distance is possible.  The ideas are illustrated with case studies and Monte Carlo results that show its excellent performance. The work is joint with Soumaya El-Kantassi.