There exists at GEO a significant population of faint debris (R 〉 15th magnitude) with high area-to-mass ratios (AMR) (1 to 30 sq m/kg). Their orbital elements (particularly eccentricity and inclination) are observed to change on the time-scale of a week. The consensus is that these objects may be fragments of multi-layer insulation (MLI) blankets. Their orbits are primarily perturbed by solar radiation pressure. In this paper we will report preliminary results from an international collaboration to investigate the unresolved optical properties of these objects. This population was originally discovered by the ESA Space Debris Telescope, and the bulk of the objects to be described here are based on discoveries made with this telescope. Additional objects were supplied by both Russia and the US Air Force. Follow-up optical observations were obtained for a sample of a dozen objects by MODEST (the Michigan Orbital DEbris Survey Telescope) located at Cerro Tololo Inter-American Observatory in Chile. Sequences of calibrated observations in filters B, V, Broad R, and I were obtained under photometric conditions. Multi-color photometric observations in B, V, R, and I band of the same objects were also acquired at the Zimmerwald 1-meter telescope, located near Bern, Switzerland. Light curves of selected high AMR objects will be shown with a temporal resolution of a few seconds and typically span about 10 minutes. Photometric observations of these objects were acquired at the Crimean Astrophysical Observatory (CrAO). This data set includes light curves of objects having high variability of brightness and observed with 2.6 m and 0.64 m class instruments. We will present an analysis of the observed magnitudes and colors, and their correlations (or lack of correlation) with orbital elements, and with predicted values for MLI fragments. This represents the first such collaborative observational program on faint debris at GEO.
58th International Astronautical Congress 2007; 24-28 September 2007; Hyderabad; India