AAS 99-170

Determination of Close Approaches Based on Ellipsoidal Threat Volumes

V.T. Coppola, J. Woodburn

Analytical Graphics, Inc., Malvern, PA


We describe a method for computing close approach events for space objects having ellipsoidal threat volumes. An event is deemed to occur whenever the closest distance between the primary ellipsoid and a secondary ellipsoid is less that a user-specified threshold. The size of each ellipsoid, representing the position uncertainty of an object, is also user-specified. Both fixed and time-varying ellipsoids are considered. We first describe the solution to the problem of computing the closest distance between a point and an ellipsoid. We then use this solution in an iterative scheme to compute the closest distance between the two ellipsoids.