The Chinese space station Tiangong-1 is reentering in earth atmosphere in the first months of 2018. The space station has been declared out of control in 2016 thus, the prediction of reentering trajectory is important to definitively exclude risks for earth population.
In this scenario, MORAL M1000 mount has been exploited to track the station during a fast passage. The orbit was in fact almost circular with 256 Km of perigee. The tracking has been performed totally automated in open loop thus without any image feedback and correction and without pointing model applied, showing the high performance obtainable with MORAL in terms of intrinsic slew rate capability and precision. The automated tracking is performed thanks to a proprietary precise algorithm included in the Satellite Tracking Function of MORAL Software. The operative function is an integral part of the MORAL application software of the mount, thus available without the need of external application.
MORAL permitted to track the object in the FOV for almost 5 minutes in an azimuth range close to 180°. Despite the low elevation and thus the visual obstacles, a 2 minutes video with continuous visibility has been extrapolated. The data obtained have been processed by the team of researcher of the S5 Lab of the University of Rome "La Sapienza" led by Prof. Fabrizio Piergentili and Prof. Fabio Santoni, that managed to obtain data of the attitude of Tiangong-1.
Watch the full video below and the light curves of Tiangong