Pat Seitzer conducts optical studies of orbital debris for NASA. Using U-M’s 0.6-meter Curtis-Schmidt telescope at Cerro Tololo in Chile, he works to assess the total amount of debris at the geosynchronous orbit (GEO) -- where most communications satellites are located -- then follows up with spectroscopy at Magellan to characterize his targets by material. The data his team gathers is fed into NASA’s public software that models the risk to functional satellites from debris such as defunct satellites and spacecraft parts.
Seitzer’s background in observational astronomy is a distinctive complement to collaborators’ expertise in areas ranging from spacecraft materials to orbits. His group has developed techniques to survey the sky for debris at GEO, new tracking algorithms for spectroscopy of fast-moving targets, and a reverse time-delay integration (TDI) technique that lets his team survey the sky with telescope motion only at the sidereal rate. It’s highly efficient and has enhanced the signal-to-noise ratio of GEO objects in his images.
Star clusters, history of Michigan observatories.
BS, Georgetown University; PhD, University of Virginia. Instrument Scientist, Space Telescope Science Institute; Astronomer, Kitt Peak National Observatory; Postdoc, Cerro Tololo Inter-American Observatory/Chile.
For articles that include this author, use this ADS search.