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Learned Event-Based Visual Perception for Improved Space Object Detection
The detection of dim artificial Earth satellites using ground-based electro-optical sensors, particularly in the presence of background light, is technologically challenging. This perceptual task is foundational to our understanding of the space environment, and grows in importance as the number, variety, and dynamism of space objects increases. We present a hybrid image- and event-based architecture that leverages dynamic vision sensing technology to detect resident space objects in geosynchronous Earth orbit. Given the asynchronous, one-dimensional image data supplied by a dynamic vision sensor, our architecture applies conventional image feature extractors to integrated, two-dimensional frames in conjunction with point-cloud feature extractors, such as PointNet, in order to increase detection performance for dim objects in scenes with high background activity. In addition, an end-to-end event-based imaging simulator is developed to both produce data for model training as well as approximate the optimal sensor parameters for event-based sensing in the context of electro-optical telescope imagery. Experimental results confirm that the inclusion of point-cloud feature extractors increases recall for dim objects in the high-background regime.