Short Courses

The AMOS Conference technical short courses are selected for their relevance to the SSA/SDA technical community. In 2023 there will be a selection of in-person and online courses, taught by highly regarded industry experts on a number of subjects. 

The small size of each class gives participants an excellent opportunity for personalized instruction and provides opportunities for working professionals to upgrade their technical job skills and remain abreast of recent developments in their respective fields of interest. 

  • Separate registration fee required for each course.
  • Course(s) can be added to a new or existing registration. Payment must be completed to secure a place in the course.
  • All dates/times listed are Hawaii Standard Time (HST)
  • Short Courses are not recorded

IN-PERSON COURSES are offered for attendees on Tuesday September 19 who are able to participate while on Maui. In-person Short Courses will not be livestreamed for virtual attendance. 

VIRTUAL COURSES are offered “live” on Monday September 18, and participants will have the ability to interact with the instructor and attendees in real-time. Virtual registrants will receive webinar access details the week of the event.  

SEPT 19 | 8:00 AM – 12:00 PM HST | IN-PERSON SHORT COURSES 1-5 (run concurrently)

1. Satellite Photometry for Non-resolved Object Characterization

Presented by:
Tamara Payne, Principal Scientist, Altamira Technologies Corp.

This short course will cover how to collect, calibrate, process, and analyze electro-optical sensor data for characterizing anthropogeniic space objects. The course will have four sessions: 1) Data collection preparation and strategy; 2) Photometry collection and calibrations; 3) Photometric reduction and processing; and 4) Analysis for object characterization. All orbit regimes in cislunar will be covered. The objectives of the course to improve the utility of EO data via increased awareness of noise sources and appreciation of limitations on the data due to sensor characteristics and data collection methodologies, and to inform researchers of the best approaches for implementing new techniques based on Artificial Intelligence/Machine Learning algorithms for identification and characterization. Part of the materials will be a thorough list of references spanning the development period of this research topic (over twenty years).

2. Joint Task Force Space Defense Commercial Operations (JCO) - Course 100

Presented by:
Rishi Patel, Dragon Army Program Manager, U.S. Air Force
Joseph Gerber, JCO Lead Integrator, KBR
William Zavis, JCO Lead Instructor, KBR

The Joint Task Force Space Defense (JTF-SD) Commercial Operations (JCO) to provide operational overview and account registration to remote space operations services.  The JCO conducts non-classified space domain awareness (SDA) operations to provide military augmentation for satellite tracking and anomaly detection utilizing multi-phenomonology remote sensing provided by commercial and academic systems.  Commercial remote sensing systems include electro-optical, radar, passive Radio Frequency (RF) systems, and Near Earth Imaging (NEI) sat-to-sat imaging.  JCO conducts integration with these services to monitor and report on anomolous activity of specified satellites for Protect and Defend (P&D) operations.  During this course, candidates will receive an overview of JCO operations, apply for account access to chat channels, and explore/utilize basic tools developed by the Air Force Research Laboratory (AFRL) Dragon Army software team.  Tools include Sensor Operations Status board, Mission Management Board (MMB), Dragon Army Waterfall, and Alert Management System (AMS).  Following completion of the course, candidates will continue to have access to JCO operations channels as well as registration/receipt to JCO Notice to Space Operator (NOTSO) alerting. 

3. Telescopes and Optics: An Introduction to Ground-based Optical SDA

Presented by:
Mark Ackermann, Systems Analyst, Sandia National Labs
Peter Zimmer, Astronomer, J.T. McGraw and Associates, LLC

This course will provide those new to the space domain awareness (SDA) community (as well as those seeking a refresher) an introductory-level understanding of the tools and techniques used for detecting and tracking earth-orbiting satellites with ground-based optical instruments. The course begins with an overview of optical telescopes and includes a discussion of many of the key terms and buzzwords one might encounter when reading about ground-based optical telescopes. From there, the course presents an overview of how these components are assembled into a sensor package for night time optical SDA and can be optimized to suit various mission goals. This includes a discussion of satellite visual magnitudes, terminator viewing, sensitivity, search rate and related topics. Finally, the course presents a brief look at the challenges and differences of optical systems for daytime optical and cislunar SDA.

4. Introduction to Event-based Sensors for SDA: A Hands-On Tutorial

Presented by:
Gregory Cohen, Associate Professor, Western Sydney University
Michael Dexter, Director, Air Force Institute of Technology  
Brian McReynolds, PhD Student, U.S. Air Force
Rachel Oliver, Doctoral Student, Cornell University    
Michal Zolnowski, Member of the Board, Remote Observatories for Asteroids and Debris Searching               

Event-based sensors (EBS) are a novel class of optical imaging devices that offer a different way to detect, track, and characterize resident space objects. The technology has already shown promising results for SDA applications, and the pace of both software and hardware improvements is accelerating rapidly.  We plan to build on the well-attended course we offered last year to provide a hands-on introduction to this technology and how it can be applied to tackling SDA tasks in a completely different way.  To this end, we will update the content to introduce state-of-the-art SDA sensing and processing techniques developed in the past year, and provide access to some of the newest technology currently available.

EBS have gained popularity in recent years due to the many benefits they offer over conventional, frame-based optical sensors, such as low data rates, low power consumption, high dynamic range, and high temporal resolution. Many of these benefits arise from the technology’s unique operational construct, and make event cameras an attractive technology for Space Domain Awareness (SDA). Rather than sampling each pixel in the array at a set frame-rate like conventional cameras, event cameras have pixels that operate asynchronously and only report binary events that indicate a change in log photocurrent on the activated pixel. Now, after further studies into characterization, observation, and data analysis, this half-day course provides participants with an introduction to the sensors and a hands-on tutorial on how to get started using them for SDA.

The course will start with a few targeted lectures followed by hands-on experience operating an event camera and manipulating data from real-world SDA collections. Lectures will include an overview of EBS, including basic details of the pixel circuitry to help build intuition regarding camera operation, tuning camera settings to optimize detection capability, and interpreting sensor output. The instructors will then cover the basics of operating and calibrating the sensor for SDA operations, with a focus on a specific camera model that will be determined prior to the course and used during the hands-on instruction portion. Participants will be shown examples of good SDA collections. While the instructors will cover lessons learned to obtain high quality recordings, participants will also be invited to discuss their sensing goals to acquire advice that is applicable to their individual needs.

For the hands-on portion, participants will have a chance to manipulate various settings and make recordings with an EBS (make and model TBD) using open-source processing software provided by the instructor team. Participants will be guided through some of the most applicable software features, and have a chance to experience firsthand the effects of tuning the roughly half-dozen bias currents that are most critical to refining sensor performance. Additionally, course participants will be provided access to a repository containing a number of event camera recordings and post processing software. During the course, instructors will provide a guided example of processing a raw dataset, visualizing the data, and running code to extract important information such as star and satellite tracks.

5. Astrodynamics for xGEO Space Domain Awareness

Presented by:
Aaron Rosengren, Assistant Professor, Jacobs School of Engineering, University of California San Diego
Shane Ross, Professor, Virginia Tech

The nonlinear astrodynamics in the cislunar space beyond the geosynchronous belt (xGEO), encompassing secular, resonant, chaotic, close-encounter, and manifold dynamics, is dramatically different than the weakly perturbed Keplerian approach used for over a half century for the detection and tracking of objects near Earth. This course will review the foundational dynamics in the entire xGEO regime, including lunar mean-motion resonances (MMRs) and secular resonances, as well as the short timescale dynamics of libration-point orbits (LPOs) and and their associated invariant manifolds. A wide variety of dynamical models are employed to approximate the diversity of trajectories in xGEO space. Whereas circumterrestrial and circumlunar orbits are largely governed by the perturbed two-body problem, in which the effects of the non-spherical gravity field and third-body perturbations on Earth or Moon satellites are often treated in a Hamiltonian formulation, all other cislunar trajectories, including lunar transfers and LPOs, are specific applications of the gravitational N-body problem.  The simplest way to model trans-lunar trajectories is with the method of patched conics, whereby the Moon’s sphere of influence (SOI) separates selenocentric from geocentric motions. More realistically, however, trans-lunar trajectories are governed by the restricted three-body problem (R3BP), in which the spacecraft of negligible mass is simultaneously affected by the terrestrial and lunar gravitational forces. This framework efficiently captures Earth-Moon orbital transfers, models the regions of the Lagrange equilibrium points, and has generally been the most studied formulation of motion in xGEO space. This course will review the multi-timescale astrodynamics of xGEO space and bridge the gap between the perturbative treatment of distant geocentric orbits and the restricted three-body dynamics of LPOs. Our scope covers the wide range of orbital phase space relevant to both historic and current xGEO missions launched by the US (e.g., AMPTE, Chandra X-ray Observatory, several EXPLORER series satellites, ARTEMIS), Europe (e.g., XMM-Newton, Cluster II), Russia (e.g., Prognoz, Spektr-R, Astron), as well as the significant future xGEO missions scheduled or proposed by over a dozen nations or organizations to be launched in this decade.

SEPT 19 | 1:00 PM – 5:00 PM HST | IN-PERSON SHORT COURSES 6-10 (run concurrently)

6. CA Risk Assessment Technical Short Course

Presented by:

Matthew Hejduk, Chief Engineer, NASA Robotic CARA, The Aerospace Corporation
Francois Laporte, CESAR Team Senior Expert, CNES
Lauri Newman, Conjunction Assessment Program Officer, NASA 


The threat of on-orbit collisions has become an increasing concern to the spacefaring community, both as an increasing mission risk due to a more congested space environment and through wider community awareness of the problem.  The operational practice of conjunction assessment in response to this risk has also become more commonplace, evolving from simply predicting close approaches between orbiting objects to sophisticated systems and processes for managing on-orbit collision risk.  This short course, organized and taught by industry leaders and subject matter experts in the field, is designed to educate beginners to intermediate-level practitioners on the fundamentals of conjunction assessment.

This course provides a three-part overview of Conjunction Assessment.

The first part is an extended background theory section that includes all the theoretical components which are needed in order to perform conjunction analysis and associated risk assessment. Topics include relevant astrodynamics basics, orbit determination methodologies, space domain awareness basic concepts, satellite conjunction assessment theory, quantified limitations of the two-dimensional probability of collision calculation, Monte Carlo analysis, cross-correlation between satellite covariances, and collision consequence assessments.

The second part of the course contains a treatment of modern conjunction risk assessment practices. The presenters share their operational experience and lessons learned, including some historical collision and close approach prediction statistics.  Topics in this section include using and interpreting satellite probabilities of collision, designing and evaluating collision risk mitigation maneuvers, and understanding and processing the various relevant conjunction assessment data products, including those provided by the 18th Space Control Squadron.
Altogether, more than 300 satellites are supported by either the NASA Conjunction Assessment Risk Analysis (CARA) or the CNES Conjunction Assessment and Evaluation Service: Alerts and Recommendations (CAESAR) within the EU SST framework, two instances of Middle Man. For both Middle Man examples, operations methods are presented and feedback is discussed. Both organization’s processes regularly evolve in order either to follow 18th Space Control Squadron upgrades or to improve analysis according to operational experience acquired during the past years.

The third and final section of the course contains a treatment of emerging technical and policy challenges for conjunction assessment activities.  The space environment has been rapidly evolving, and is expected to continue to do so in the coming years.
These changes include:

  • large constellations are being proposed and flown
  • cubesats are making space accessible to non-traditional space operators
  • regulation and best practices are evolving
  • efforts continue to define an architecture for a consolidated governmental or international Space Traffic Management (STM) entity
  • Cis-lunar space is becoming more populated.

This course not only demonstrates that Collision Avoidance is a 2-step process (close approach detection followed by risk evaluation to enable making a sound collision avoidance decision) but also leads to the conclusion that the complicated topic benefits from an experienced Middle Man role to provide expert advice to spacecraft operators. This course would be presented jointly between Centre National d’Etudes Spatiales (the French Space Agency) and the NASA Conjunction Assessment Risk Analysis team.

7. CyberRoll Space - A Space Cybersecurity Tabletop Exercise

Presented by:
Molly Cooper, Associate Professor, Ferris State University
Peter Dillman, Owner, Operator, Dillman’s Dungeon

This short course is an immersive, role-playing, gamified, cybersecurity table-top experience. Participants will be assigned a simulated cybersecurity role in a fictitious space technology company experiencing a cybersecurity breach and attack. Participants will choose what security controls will be used to defend the organization and space vehicles from attack. Participants will learn cybersecurity planning, strategy, communication, team building, and incident response. This simulated table-top exercise helps to determine where cybersecurity controls could be applied to ground stations, space vehicles, cloud architecture, and employees of a space company through rehearsing breach responses.
8. Deep Learning Methods for Space Domain Awareness
Presented by:
Weston Faber, Senior Research Scientist, L3Harris
Roberto Furfaro, Professor, University of Arizona
Richard Linares, Associate Professor, Massachusetts Institute of Technology

Over the past decade, the field of machine learning has experienced incredible improvements in the applicability and accuracy of its techniques. These advances present huge opportunities for the SDA community as it faces ever-increasing scope, sensing modalities, and data volumes. The short course will survey recent advances in deep learning and associated applications to SDA. The first portion of the course will cover a broad overview of modern deep learning techniques with an emphasis on those areas that seem most directly relevant to SDA. The second portion of the course will examine a set of case studies of the techniques being applied to real SSA problems, including code examples in Python with Tensorflow.

In this short course you will:

  1. Get introduced to the theory and practice of Deep Learning (Dense & Convolutional Neural Networks, Variational Autoencoders)
  2. Get introduced to the theory and practice of Deep Reinforcement Learning (Q-learning, Policy Gradient)
  3. Analyze SSA-relevant case studies via development of python-based codes for deep nets Jupyter notebooks walk-through
9. Observing and Characterizing Space Debris

Presented by:
Thomas Schildknecht, Vice Director, Head Optical Astronomie, Director Zimmerwalk Observatory, Astronomisches Institut Executive Director, Institut Universität Bern

The proliferation of space debris and the increased probability of collisions and interference raise concerns about the long-term sustainability of space activities, particularly in the low-Earth orbit and geostationary orbit environments. During recent years governments, space agencies and civilian research organizations increased their efforts to build space object catalogues and to investigate the space debris population in different orbit regions. Understanding the nature and the sources of debris is a prerequisite to provide the scientific foundation for a sustainable use of near-Earth space.

This course will provide a general introduction to the space debris problem, give an overview on the current space debris research activities to detect and characterize space debris, followed by a presentation of the efforts to model the future space debris population and the international efforts to protect and remediate the space environment. Particular focus will be put on optical techniques to detect, track and characterize space objects including small-size debris. The techniques will be illustrated with examples from the long-standing observation programs of the Astronomical Institute of the University of Bern (AIUB).

10. Hands-on, Interactive Astrodynamics Education in the Metaverse
Presented by:

Rob Hyland, Director of Program Transition, Charles River Analytics
Susan Latiff, Scientist, Product Lead, Charles River Analytics
Daniel Stouch, Director, Space & Airborne Systems, Charles River Analytics

During this course, students will use provided augmented reality (AR) and virtual reality (VR) headsets to experience and learn about the fundamentals of space domain awareness, orbital mechanics, payload and spacecraft design, and command and control operations in an immersive 3D environment. Students will experience immersive space domain awareness by spinning the virtual Earth and its 20,000+ satellites, and walking around and manipulating the scene to understand the different orbital regimes (LEO, GEO, HEO, MEO, and xGEO) and their astrodynamic relationships at an intuitive level. Students will visualize and learn the differences between controlled payloads, rocket bodies, and debris in space. Students will experience the space domain to inspect and analyze virtual satellites, studying their orbital paths, relationships to nearby satellites, ground stations, the sun, and the moon. They will play the scene forward and backward, in slow motion and at faster than normal speeds. Students will select specific satellites and adjust their orbital parameters in real time to experience how changes in two line element (TLE) parameters such as inclination, right ascension of the ascending node (RAAN), eccentricity, argument of perigee, mean anomaly, and mean motion affect their motion over time. Students will leave the course with an enhanced, intuitive understanding of basic orbital dynamics, the parameters that characterize them, and how they relate to each other in space.

Sept 18 | 8:00 AM – 12:00 PM HST | VIRTUAL SHORT COURSES A-C (run concurrently)

A: 'The Agile Regulator' - Regulation, On-Orbit Tracking, and the Law

Presented by:
Ralph Dinsley, NORSS Senior Advisor, Space Sustainable Solutions Northumbria (3S Northumbria)
Christopher Newman, Professor of Space Law and Policy, Northumbria University

This course will provide participants with an introductory overview of the way in which space exploration is governed on a national and international level, using the lens of the Space Law Games. The course will examine the overarching international framework for space governance, focusing on the Outer Space Treaty provisions and the related treaties, with a special examination of the Liability Convention. The discussion will then turn to the way in which the Space Law games have highlighted the difficulties with the current regime in respect of determining fault in orbital operations and discuss the impact that this will have primarily upon activities such as satellite operations and military uses of space but also in a broader sense on human spaceflight activity.

The rise of very large constellations and other innovations, such as active debris removal or on-orbit servicing procedures means ever more data of space is going to be needed to keep track of the increasing burden placed on the orbital environment. Participants will examine the need for corroborated information which removes as much ambiguity as possible about the position of objects in orbit is crucial to both safe and sustainable satellite operations. The course will discuss and evaluate the considerable barriers that exist to obtaining a more complete picture of this information.

Participants will then discuss the need for both codification of the norms for safe sustainable satellite operations and clarity on protocols for evidence gathering in cases where a collision has resulted in damage to a space asset and fault may be an issue. This discussion will identify that a way in which this could be achieved is using “space law games”, which combine military war gaming and legal mooting. In these games, fictional scenarios could highlight some of the key operational and legal issues that might need to be dealt with. By identifying the data gaps in the fictional ‘law game’ scenario will help locate possible areas of enhancement in SSA capacity and gaps in evidential quality data from space. Identifying the war-gaming methodology for the simulation, and the need for distinct ‘games’ in different orbits is crucial as these will provide the data for the legal phase of the ‘Law Games’. Given the total absence of litigation in respect of fault in space, the paper will demonstrate how the space law games will try and highlight ways to fill the data gap that currently exists in orbital operations.

At the end of the course, participants will be invited to evaluate legal responses to new developments such as on-orbit servicing and active debris removal in LEO as well as mining and tourism in space, and, managing environmental issues in space through the lens of liability and the lessons that can be learned by employing a war-gaming approach. They will examine the challenges and opportunities for space governance posed by commercial activity of companies in an area where more traditional state and business organizations are facing competition from small and medium size companies.

B: Space Domain Awareness (SDA) Workshop

Presented by:
Wiley Larson, Managing Editor, CEI
Dr. Moriba Jah, Co-Founder & Chief Scientist, Privateer
Pamela Magee, Editor, Space Technology Series

This short course provides a big picture perspective of Space Domain Awareness (SDA) that is focused on the actionable knowledge required to predict, avoid, deter, operate through, recover from, and attribute cause to losing or degrading space capabilities and services.  A major purpose for SDA is to provide decision makers with a quantifiable and timely body of evidence of behaviors attributable to specific space threats and hazards. SDA encompasses all activities of information tasking—collecting, fusing, exploiting, quantifying, and extracting—that result in identifying and predicting credible threats and hazards.

The short course content is based on our recently published book on SDA which contains contributions from 28 authors including university professors, scientists and engineers, former USAF officers, defense contractors and graduate students.  This 400-page book provides an overview of SDA and established principles, philosophies and approaches that are useful to conduct SDA operations.  The operations include, but are not limited to, detecting, identifying, tracking, and characterizing objects and their behaviors; detecting changes associated with selected RSOs; and potentially mitigating threats.  Presentations during this workshop will include contributions by key authors and editors including Dr. Wiley Larson, Dr. Jim Shell, Dr. Matt Hejduk, Dr. Moriba Jah and Pam Magee.

This course is of particular interest to space systems operators, system developers, managers and administrators. Anyone interested in space situational awareness, space traffic management and/or space domain awareness will find the course and course materials invaluable. This course will be exceptionally useful to those interested in SDA sensors, data, data flow, data fusion and data sharing.

C: Optical Modeling and Simulation for SSA/SDA

Presented by:

Alexander Lam, Application Engineer II, AGI, Ansys Government Initiatives

Patrick North, Chief Remote Sensing Engineer, Image and Computer Scientist, AGI, Ansys Government Initiatives

This course will be presented by a career Image Scientist who will present and discuss the methods and tools available for the modeling and simulations of SSA/SDA optical sensor systems. This will include a rigid radiometric review covering the mathematics and physics involved in electromagnetic radiation from the blue through the longwave thermal infrared. We will then discuss modeling target characteristics, solar and secondary illumination sources, atmosphere and background modeling, and sensor simulation. We will cover the different modeling and simulation methods, discuss their varying levels-of-fidelity and performance consideration, and assign the use-cases where each method is most appropriate. During the course we will demonstrate the impact of different target, atmospheric, background, and sensor characteristics on imaging data and the downstream ramifications on image analysis and exploitation. Finally we will present various research level imaging concepts from novel hypothetical hardware, collection, and processing methodologies to capturing unique SSA/SDA collection opportunities and discuss the flexibility required to represent them in modeling and simulation.