LeoLabs announces its Collision Avoidance service. Learn More >>

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FAQs

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Tracking and Monitoring

  • Know with confidence where your satellite is. Receive precision orbit state vectors including uncertainties without having to hire dedicated orbit analysts or purchase expensive orbit determination software. No need to rely on less accurate TLEs to make crucial operational decisions.
  • Have known service levels you can plan for. Get a record of orbital state updates for your satellite, and know when to expect the next updates with planned radar pass information. Have access to not only the orbit states and uncertainties, but the quality levels and timeliness of the underlying data as well.
  • Streamline and simplify your satellite operations. LeoLabs Tracking and Monitoring provides an off-the-shelf, cloud-based solution for your primary or backup navigation needs. A RESTful API allows for efficient system integration to access your satellite data products, visualize orbit states and covariances, and share data within mission operations centers or your company website.

Two Line Element sets (TLEs) have long been used to convey location information for space objects. However, TLEs are created from mean Keplerian elements, and by definition, represent an approximation to the true orbit path. They do not provide instantaneous precise location of satellites, and they do not contain uncertainty information that many satellite operators rely on to make informed operational decisions. TLE-derived positions often deviate from the true position by a few kilometers, and the errors can grow much larger as the TLEs are propagated for more than one day.

 

In contrast, LeoLabs Tracking and Monitoring delivers fitted orbital state vectors (positions, velocities and uncertainties) and propagated ephemerides at times up to seven days into the future, using high fidelity force models for Earth gravity and atmospheric drag. Our data products convey instantaneous positions of the tracked satellites, with uncertainties commonly well below 100m RMS at epoch for well-tracked objects. Typical ephemeris position uncertainties are less than a few hundred meters when propagated by one day.

 

We continuously monitor the accuracy and realism of our radar data by comparing our solutions with those of multiple reference objects, including International Laser Ranging Service (ILRS) satellites. From these comparisons, our automated system continuously updates our radar biases and residuals. Tracking and Monitoring also provides users with tools to monitor covariance trending and consistency between state updates.

 

We currently track operational cubesats as small as 0.25U (10cm x 10cm x 2.5cm). Contact us if you have a unique satellite size, and we will review the radar cross section (RCS) and reflectivity information and confirm our ability to track your satellite before you launch.

 

A new state vector is generated following each radar pass of a satellite. The frequency of state vector updates for any satellite depends on multiple factors, including orbital inclination, size of the satellite, altitude, and geometry of individual radar passes. On average, Tracking and Monitoring subscribers can expect new state vector updates to be delivered 1-2x per day, per satellite. High inclination satellites (including sun-synchronous orbits) may receive significantly more updates, up to 3-5x per day.

 

Additionally, as LeoLabs adds more radars to its global network, this will substantially increase the frequency of delivered data products.

 

All our services are 100% web-based, with no software to install. We provide access to our data through three methods:

 

LeoLabs Tracking and Monitoring is a commercial off-the-shelf service made available through a simple subscription model. Costs are as follows for operators with one to five satellites:

 

  • Tracking and Monitoring 12-month subscription: $2,500 per month, per satellite
  • Tracking and Monitoring month-to-month subscription: $4,000 per month, per satellite (three month minimum required)

Fleets and constellations of six or more satellites are eligible for volume discounts and/or customized licensing models based on the needs of the provider. Contact us for details.

 

Collision Avoidance

Organizations subscribing to the LeoLabs Collision Avoidance will receive conjunction notifications for their satellites, including real-time “streaming” data products accessible via RESTful APIs for efficient integration into operational mission architectures, and access to robust web tools for analyzing and visualizing conjunction event risk.

 

Yes, LeoLabs Collision Avoidance supports both continuous screenings using operator-provided definitive ephemerides, as well as on-demand screenings for test or candidate ephemerides with results returned typically within 30 seconds. Ephemeris uploads may be done programmatically and automated for more efficient satellite operations. Operator ephemeris screenings are performed against the LeoLabs object catalog, as well as ephemerides provided by other operators.

 

You will receive updates in real-time as new data is collected and processed. Our system generates a new CDM with every new state vector update on either object involved. Typically, this occurs once per radar pass or multiple times per day. For well-tracked objects, with three radars we currently generate 20-60 CDMs per conjunction event over an eight-day screening period. This number will increase further as we add more radars to our global network.

 

When our system detects high-risk conjunction events involving user satellites, the secondary object is automatically tasked for increased prioritization for future radar passes. This frequently leads to improved tracking quality of the object, with lowered uncertainties and a more accurate assessment of risk for the event. Users can see precisely when secondary objects were tasked by our system, and even submit additional tasking requests on-demand.

 

LeoLabs Collision Avoidance also provides users with direct access to data products for secondary objects, including state vectors and ephemerides with full covariance matrices.

 

Absolutely! While LeoLabs Collision Avoidance functions as a stand-alone commercial service for spaceflight safety, we believe that the more high-quality data is available to our users, the better. We encourage our customers to continue using conjunction alerts provided by the 18th SPCS and incorporate them into the platform.

 

LeoLabs can directly ingest third-party CDMs on an operator’s behalf and incorporate them into LeoLabs Collision Avoidance. Our system automatically identifies the conjunction event and correlates it with the same event detected independently in our system, aggregating all available sources of information into consolidated conjunction analysis reports. By combining ephemeris and CDM data from LeoLabs, 18th SPCS, and owner-operators into a single platform, no other solution provides a more complete system for conjunction risk assessment.

 

Space Domain Awareness

We cover Low Earth Orbit (LEO) between approximately 300 kilometers and 2,000 kilometers in altitude. Our radars cover inclinations between 30° and 150° today (and all inclinations in the next couple of years).

 

Today our radars track objects that are 10 centimeters across and larger. The Kiwi Space Radar (KSR), located in New Zealand, can detect smaller objects and data on those objects will be available to subscribers in the future.

 

As of early 2020, there are about 14,000 objects in LEO that are 10 centimeters across and larger. We are tracking those today. Approximately 1,700 of these are functional satellites. The rest are dead satellites, rocket bodies, and other debris.

 

Tracking satellites in LEO is difficult. LEO satellites move quickly so you cannot simply stare at a satellite with a single sensor for hours on end (like you can with GEO satellites). A satellite in LEO completes a full lap around the Earth every 90 minutes. It’s important to measure a satellite’s position and heading frequently because a satellite’s orbit can change due to variations in the atmosphere and due to intentional maneuvers. Frequent measurements can only be made with a network of sensors. With 3 radars in our network, a satellite passes over our radars up to 6 times per day.

 

No, we use radars because they can operate through rain, snow, wind, clouds, and daylight. We run them around the clock.

 

We used phased-array technology so our radars can switch from one object to the next every millisecond. At any given moment each radar is switching between multiple objects.

 

Our system is regularly tracking all the satellites in our catalog so we may have already scheduled the measurements you need. Subscribers can check the radar schedules multiple days in advance. We also offer a prioritization service so you can get many radar passes per day on the satellites you care about. Contact us for details about tasking and searching services.

 

Yes, a subscription gets you access to real-time data flowing from our network of proven radars. The subscription price covers everything you need. Separate charges for radar construction, radar operations and maintenance, software development, Information Technology (IT) operations, and the like, are relics of the past.

 

Yes, we run a fully automated Tasking, Collection, Processing, Exploitation, and Dissemination (TCPED) pipeline. Subscribers can access the data at the points in the pipeline that make sense for their applications.

 

You can access our online dashboards today. By subscribing to a dashboard seat license you can see dynamically generated content that shows detailed reports of the latest events in LEO. These dashboards also permit access to our archived data.

 

With our API you can easily route our data feeds into your software system. Our Field Applications Engineers stand ready to assist you. Plus, our API documentation is freely available online at https://platform.leolabs.space/documentation/api_quickstart.

 

No data should be trusted blindly. At LeoLabs, we believe in building trust through transparency. We report critical quality metrics, metadata, and operational status – the things you need to build the trust required to use our services operationally. This includes radar biases and residuals, state vector covariances, scheduled radar maintenance windows, the schedule for future measurements, and an archive of the schedule for past measurements. Our satellite operator customers compare our measurements and states to the state vectors they derive from their on-board GPS units. Multiple third-parties have evaluated our data with very positive results.