Space debris ontology for ADR capture methods selection

Marko Jankovic, Mehmed Yüksel, Mohammad Mohammadzadeh Babr, Francesca Letizia, Vitali Braun

In: Acta Astronautica n.n. Seiten 56-68 Elsevier Ltd. 4/2020.


Studies have concluded that active debris removal (ADR) of the existing in-orbit mass is necessary. However, the quest for an optimal solution does not have a unique answer and the available data often lacks coherence. To improve this situation, modern knowledge representation techniques, that have been shaping the World Wide Web, medicine and pharmacy, should be employed. Prior efforts in the domain of space debris have only focused onto space situational awareness, neglecting ADR. To bridge this gap we present a domain-ontology of intact derelict objects, i. e. payloads and rocket bodies, for ADR capture methods selection. The ontology is defined on a minimal set of physical, dynamical and statistical parameters of a target object. The practicality and validity of the ontology are demonstrated by applying it onto a database of 30 representative objects, built by combining structured and unstructured data from publicly available sources. The analysis of results proves the ontology capable of inferring the most suited ADR capture methods for considered objects. Furthermore, it confirms its ability to handle the input data from different sources transparently, minimizing user input. The developed ontology provides an initial step towards a more comprehensive knowledge representation framework meant to improve data management and knowledge discovery in the domain of space debris. Furthermore, it provides a tool that should make the initial planning of future ADR missions simpler yet more systematic.


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Deutsches Forschungszentrum für Künstliche Intelligenz
German Research Center for Artificial Intelligence