Software Bisque Press Release

September 03, 1999


U.S. Air Force "Raven" Project: Utilizing Survey Astronomy Innovations from Software Bisque


Paramount GT-1100 robotic telescope mount and software—TheSky, CCDSoft, TPoint, Orchestrate—help Air Force play "traffic cop" in key satellite observation project.




GOLDEN, CO—Astronomer and software developer Steve Bisque, co-founder of Software Bisque, has been invited to speak at the Air Force Maui Optical Station (AMOS) Technical Conference in Maui, Hawaii. The speech will focus on how products from Software Bisque are being integrated into the Air Force’s observation and tracking of satellites. The AMOS conference will be held August 30 through September 2, 1999. During his talk, entitled "Leveraging Software to Make Highly Productive Robotic Telescope Systems," Mr. Bisque will focus on the software applications developed by his company.

The objectives of the AMOS Program are to provide state-of-the-art measurement support to various government agencies and the scientific community for research and development programs; and to serve as a test-bed for newly developed evolving electro-optical sensors. AMOS consists of the observatory’s premier optical instrument, the 1.6-meter telescope, the sensors mounted on it, and two smaller telescopes, the 0.82-meter and the 0.64-meter. These telescopes track man-made satellites while recording their orbital parameters (metrics), radiation properties (signatures), and forming images for space-object identification.

Air Force Research Labs is using a similar system developed by the Company, dubbed "Raven," as part of a Ground-based Electro-Optical Deep Space Surveillance (GEODSS) network that acquires data to help keep track of satellites for Air Force Space Command (AFSPC) in Colorado Springs, Colorado. And whereas Raven is a $100,000 system that provides productive punch to the Air force program, it’s still a fraction of the cost of a standard GEODSS system thanks to Software Bisque’s hardware-software combination. According to John Africano of Boeing (an Air Force contractor), the Raven system has "revolutionized the way they do astronomy" at the Maui Space Surveillance System.

The Bisque software system—which carries users from telescope and camera control through script-writing and CCD imaging—is already familiar to many who practice survey astronomy, which entails "patrolling" night skies for satellites, supernovas, variable stars, near-earth asteroids, minor planets, and comets.

Golden-based Software Bisque is considered by many in the field to be the leading astronomy software developer in the industry. Its flagship software product, TheSky™, has gained a well-earned reputation as the most sophisticated, elegant, yet easy-to-use planetarium and telescope-control program (a program which also allows the user to visualize the sky in depth and simulate celestial events). Software Bisque has developed several extensions for TheSky, including CCDSoft™ , a CCD imaging and image processing program; TPoint™ , a program to analyze and optimize the pointing accuracy of many types of computer-driven telescopes; and Orchestrate™ , a program that allows the user to develop scripts that automatically integrate control of your telescope, CCD camera, telescope dome and other devices. The company also produces the Paramount GT-1100 robotic telescope mount, which allows survey astronomers—professionals and "amateurs" alike—to CCD-image (with operation via a scripting process and even remotely via the internet) 200 or more deep-space objects in a single night. This hardware-software combination provides off-the-shelf productivity never before available.

Background on GEODSS

The responsibility for keeping track of all man-made objects in orbit belongs to the Space Command Center located within Cheyenne Mountain in Colorado Springs, Colo. The center receives orbital data from GEODSS sites assigned to AFSPC. GEODSS sites play a vital role in tracking these objects, particularly those in deep space. Today there are almost 10,000 known objects in orbit around the earth, ranging from active payloads, such as weather or communications satellites, to "space junk" such as launch vehicle debris and debris generated from satellite breakups. More than 2,500 of these objects, including geostationary communications satellites, are in deep-space orbits more than 3,000 miles from earth.

There are three operational GEODSS sites: Socorro, N.M.; Maui, Hawaii; and Diego Garcia, British Indian Ocean Territories. The Raven system brings together the telescope, CCD camera, and personal computer. Its 0.40 m telescope has a 15-arc minute field of view and is able to "see" objects 10,000 times dimmer than the human eye can detect.

The telescope tracks the sky at the same rate as the stars. This keeps the distant stars in the same positions in the field of view. As the telescope slowly moves, the Raven's CCD camera takes electronic "snapshots" and records the precise time. Star images remain fixed. Man-made space objects, however, do not remain fixed, and their movements show up as tiny streaks in the image. Using the endpoints of these streaks and the exact time the image was acquired, the latest orbital elements of the objects, such as satellites in orbits from 3,000 to 23,500 miles, can be determined. This information is used to update the list of orbiting objects and sent to Cheyenne Mountain.


"Golden-based Software Bisque is considered by many in the field to be the leading astronomy software developer in the industry. Its flagship software product, TheSky, has gained a well-earned reputation as the most sophisticated, elegant, yet easy-to-use planetarium and telescope-control program. Software Bisque has developed several software extensions for TheSky, including CCDSoft, Orchestrate, TPoint and  AutomaDome."



Stephen Bisque, President & CEO

Software Bisque, Inc.

912 Twelfth Street

Golden, Colorado 80401

Phone: (303) 278-4478


Web site:


Modified: June 01, 2006 .