Maryland's Defense Patent Database

The defense community in Maryland is an R&D powerhouse. Use this database to see the innovative patents that are poised for commercialization.

Data is provided by DoD Naval labs in Southern Maryland. Database funding supported by the DoD Office of Economic Adjustment through a Defense Industry Adjustment grant program.

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Optical orbital debris spotter

Patent Number: 8,976,245

AbstractAn orbital debris detection system positionable on a satellite launchable into an earth orbit includes a light source having a collimated light output, a curved mirror for receiving the collimated light output and forming a light sheet outside the satellite, and a scattered light detector for detecting a scattered light from the light sheet resulting from orbital debris intersecting the light sheet and scattering light toward the detector. The system can provide damage attribution on a space vehicle (whether it was just hit by a piece of debris), data gathering for debris models (time, location, approximate debris size, direction of trajectory) that are starved for information on small (<1 cm) debris pieces, measuring density and distribution of predominantly small (<1 cm) orbital debris in a debris cloud (e.g. a cloud that is the result of a satellite collision), and monitoring the performance of orbital debris removal efforts that target small debris.
Patent Number8,976,245 Issue Date2015-03-10 Link USPTO website

Primary Category

Biographical Information


  • Christoph R Englert,


  • The United States of America, as represented by the Secretary of the Navy

Executive Summary

This patent was granted in 2 years, 212 days, which is a slower than average speed.

It has 18 claims, which is fewer than average for this category.

Its proximity to basic research is much less than others in this category, and it displays a much slower than average technology cycle time.

This patent received far fewer citations from other patents, and references far fewer other patents, as compared to other patents in this category.

Grant Time

2 years, 212 days



Patent Grant Time

This patent had a slower than average grant time compared to others in this category.

Patent grant time can be influenced by many factors. Activities within the USPTO that are beyond the control of patent attornies can influence grant time, but short grant times can also indicate well-written patents and dedicated efforts to respond rapidly to USPTO office actions with strong arguments. Shorter grant times are preferable, and the scores for this section are inverse measures — higher scores are better.

Patent Claims

This patent has fewer claims compared to others in this category.

The number of claims in a patent is correlated with its strength. Because greater claim counts increase the cost of a patent, more claims can indicate the importance an applicant assigns to a patent. Importantly, some may elect to file claims across multiple patents. A higher score in this metric indicates more claims, relative to others in this category.

Citations From Other Patents

This patent has received far fewer citations from other patents, than others in this category.

Citations from other patents are an important measure of the significance of a patent. More citations indicate that other technologies build on a patent. Higher scores in this metric are better, and indicate more citations from other patents.

Citations to Other Patents

This patent referenced many more citations to other patents, than others in this category.

A lower number of citations to other patents can be a sign of diminished patent strength. More citations indicate dependence on more other technologies. Higher scores in this category are better, and indicate fewer citations to other patents.

Research and Innovation Indicators
These are percentile ranks — they indicate the percentage of peers with lower scores.

Proximity to Basic Research



This patent has much less proximity to basic research compared to others in this category.

Proximity to basic research is measured by comparing the number of citations to non-patent literature among a cohort of patents. Because most non-patent citations are primary research papers, a higher count indicates greater proximity to basic research.