The Journal of the Astronautical Sciences

, Volume 64, Issue 3, pp 285–309

Space Object Collision Probability via Monte Carlo on the Graphics Processing Unit


DOI: 10.1007/s40295-017-0113-9

Cite this article as:
Vittaldev, V. & Russell, R.P. J of Astronaut Sci (2017) 64: 285. doi:10.1007/s40295-017-0113-9


Fast and accurate collision probability computations are essential for protecting space assets. Monte Carlo (MC) simulation is the most accurate but computationally intensive method. A Graphics Processing Unit (GPU) is used to parallelize the computation and reduce the overall runtime. Using MC techniques to compute the collision probability is common in literature as the benchmark. An optimized implementation on the GPU, however, is a challenging problem and is the main focus of the current work. The MC simulation takes samples from the uncertainty distributions of the Resident Space Objects (RSOs) at any time during a time window of interest and outputs the separations at closest approach. Therefore, any uncertainty propagation method may be used and the collision probability is automatically computed as a function of RSO collision radii. Integration using a fixed time step and a quartic interpolation after every Runge Kutta step ensures that no close approaches are missed. Two orders of magnitude speedups over a serial CPU implementation are shown, and speedups improve moderately with higher fidelity dynamics. The tool makes the MC approach tractable on a single workstation, and can be used as a final product, or for verifying surrogate and analytical collision probability methods.


Collision probability Monte Carlo Graphics processing unit Space situational awareness 

Copyright information

© American Astronautical Society 2017

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Department of Aerospace Engineering and Engineering MechanicsThe University of Texas at AustinAustinUSA

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