Current research interests include the application of astronomical telescope and advanced instrumentation to space surveillance—especially extremely high speed multi-color photometry, and the study of the dynamics and characteristics of high area-to-mass ratio objects in the earth orbiting environment.
Dr. Pearce has over 25 years’ experience in many different aspects of the space surveillance/space control mission area. His primary area of research has been the development of advanced systems and astronomical techniques specifically optimized for the challenges of discovering, tracking and characterizing artificial earth orbiting satellites.
He began his career at New Mexico Tech developing one of the first completely robotic systems to search for and detect extragalactic supernovae. Afterwards, he completed a post-doc appointment at the University of Chicago Yerkes Observatory developing software for the Apache Point 3.5 m telescope. Most of his professional career has been spent at the MIT Lincoln Laboratory, applying these skills to developing systems for detecting and characterizing manmade earth satellites for the Air Force and DARPA. During this time, he led the successful development of the 3.5 m DARPA Space Surveillance Telescope (SST), the world’s first large Mersenne-Schmidt telescope. The SST was specifically designed to meet the emerging challenges of high sensitivity synoptic surveillance of the near-geosynchronous orbit environment.
Ph.D. Physics, dissertation in Astrophysics, New Mexico Institute of Mining and Technology, May 1988, “An Automated Search for Extragalactic Supernovae: The Instrumentation, Software, and Scientific Problem.”
B.S. Physics with Astrophysics Option, New Mexico Institute of Mining and Technology, December 1983
B.S. Computer Science, New Mexico Institute of Mining and Technology, December 1983.
Professional Affiliations and Awards:
2012 - R&D 100 Award: Lead team that developed the wide field-of-view curved focal plan array camera for the Space Surveillance Telescope.
2014 - RNASA Team Stellar Award Winner: Lead SST team recognized for outstanding technical excellence in the development and demonstration of a ground-based telescope to address gaps in observational coverage that hamper space situational awareness in op