SSA Glossary

What is SSA?

Space Situational Awareness (SSA) refers to the knowledge of location and function of space objects and the space environment, including operational satellites, space debris, near Earth objects and space weather.

The development of a European SSA capability will underpin the exploitation of European space assets, contributing to autonomous access to (and utilization of) space for Europe (as requested by the European Space Policy, drawing on existing capabilities and infrastructures at national and European level).

Space Debris detected
Detection of space debris with radar technology, Source YouTube Copyright EU Growth

 

What is SST?

SSA is generally understood as covering three main areas, namely Space Surveillance and Tracking (SST), Space Weather Monitoring and Forecasting and Near-Earth Objects.
SST is a subset of SSA, and refers to the capacity to detect, catalogue and predict the movements of (man-made) space objects orbiting the Earth.

Chinese Space Station TiangongChinese Space Station Tiangong
Re-entry of Tiangong-1, image taken by TIRA (Tracking and Imaging Radar). Copyright Fraunhofer FHR

What is Space Debris?

Space Debris Example
Artistic Illustration of space junk, Source Youtube Copyright EU Growth

Space debris refers to any resident space object including spacecraft or fragments (elements thereof) in Earth’s orbit or re-entering Earth’s atmosphere, that are non-functional or no longer serve any specific purpose. This can include defunct rocket bodies or mission related debris, as well as artificial satellites which are no longer active/controlled.

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