GateKeeper: In Space Debris Detection Technology

Popularly predicted by Donald Kessler, the Kessler Effect seems to be more of a descriptor of the current low-Earth orbit conditions rather than a prophetic warning. The idea is that there are going to be so many satellites and other debris in low-Earth orbit that collisions between objects may become inevitable. Because of the high density of space debris, those inevitable collisions could cause a cascade where any collision creates a greater likelihood of future collisions. The reality of increased space debris makes space travel and launches more difficult. Furthermore, the satellites that orbit the Earth often in low-Earth orbit are in constant danger of impact from space debris.

The Gatekeeper is a solution to the inevitable collision problem between satellites and space debris. The Gatekeeper is designed to be installed in a satellite that can determine the probability of a collision with space debris and warn the satellite/users if there are possible collisions. This warning system would allow the satellite time enough to make proper collision avoidance adjustments.

Since the late 1950s, humanity has what can be regarded as an obsession with sending persons and things into space. Since then, many satellite constellations are currently orbiting Earth for global communications, Global Positioning System etc. Researchers are constantly working on small, micro, and nano satellites as well as different ways to improve communication and wireless transfers of information. Expansions into space have allowed humanity to exist in an entirely different way.

However, low-Earth orbit now has thousands of pieces of space debris that threaten to damage multi-million dollar projects as well as the health of the utilization of low-Earth orbit space for generations to come. With all of these issues building, projects to bolster spacecraft shielding, space debris collection and disposal, and space debris tracking and avoidance have increased. This technology adds an additional device and method of tracking for debris for satellites.

  • Space debris collision detection
  • Avoidance of space debris collision


  • Automated use
  • Satellite installation


Contact Information

TTO Home Page:

Name: Brett Mortenson

Title: Licensing Manager, College of Engineering