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The Orbital Space Ontology Project

Ontology Engineering for Space

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Welcome to the landing page for the Orbital Space Ontology Project. Ontologies are available upon request. Interested parties should contact the author at Work is based on the publications listed below.

Project Detail Description
Goals The development of a computational ontology (or ontology suite) for astronautics, the orbital space environment and applications thereof. To develop accurate domain reference ontologies that can be used across federated space databases, for (among other things): data sharing, integration, retrieval; semantic interoperabiltiy; classification & terminology development; etc. The philosophical & formal ontological analysis/clarification of fundamental orbital and astrodynamic concepts.
Scope Domains of interest: the orbital & near-Earth space environment, and space situational awareness(SSA). This includes: basic orbital concepts, satellites and other space objects, spacecraft maneuvers and operations, astrodynymic models, and thus orbital debris ontology(1)(Rovetto, ESI 2015) (PPT here, space situational awareness (SSA)(2)(Rovetto & Kelso, 2016).
Status Ontoogies are under development, subject to revision. No claims to completeness are made.
Open to collaborative development.
Currently unfunded and independently pursued by the author, so funding & partners are needed to thoroughly develop the ontologies.
Seeking/ Needing -Funding.
-Partners/Co-workers/Team: astrodynamicists (and other subject-matter experts), ontology developers, informaticists, computer scientistis, AI professionals, etc.
- Identifying applications in space agencies where these ontologies can be of benefit.
- Contract work or distance work.
- Professors (for studentship & grant proposals), Companies (to apply for grants/proposals).
-The author seeks to find a university degree studentship (toward a BS or MS in a space discipline; and a PhD in ontology, philosophy, or an interdisciplinary PhD with space).

Ontologies (Available upon request)

Ontology Name Description Link to OWL File Status
The Orbital Debris Ontology (ODO) An ontology of orbital debris objects and their properties. See publications/reference (1),(8) (Contact Author)
Near Future: the ODO OWL file will be located at
Under development.
Seeking funding & partners.
The Space Situational Awareness Ontology (SSAO) An ontology of the SSA domain, minimally of activities yielding knowledge of orbital space environment. See pub/ref. (2) (Contact Author)
Near Future: the SSAO OWL file will be located at
Under development.
Seeking funding & partners. Possibly renaming to the Orbital Space Environment Ontology(OSO).
Orbital Ontology Core (“The orbitology ontology”) (OO) A generic base ontology containing the core orbital terms used by ODO, SSAO and other terms. A general-purpose ontology to ontologically model any orbit from inputted instance data (data on particular satellites). Will be importable into other ontologies needing orbital concepts. TBD Under development
OSO/OSDO/OSEDO - The Orbital Space Ontology / Orbital Space Domain Ontology / Orbital Space Environment Ontology A single ontology file containing the above modules. The SSAO may be renamed accordingly. A generic formal represenation for the orbital space aboat any central body or astronomical reference frame. TBD Under development
The Union of Concerned Scientists Satellite Database Ontology(UCSSO) A database-specific ontology for the UCS Satellite Database. Uses terms from the other ontologies to demonstrate reuse. Complete, but subject to minor revisions when/if requested by users or the UCS.




Robert J. Rovetto

History: Author Bio-Contextual-Efforts

My oriingal interest is astronautics and space. This project has been a desired PhD topic (and foot-in-the-door to space) since 2011 when I thought of applying ontology to the orbital debris domain(1), after David Vallado of Agi Inc. mentioned the need for more debris data-integration and sharing during a presentation at the ISDC conference in Boulder. My idea was to help the debris hazard by facilitating data sharing/integration so that greater actionable knowledge/awareness of the orbital debris environment can be achieved, as well as to model orbital concepts (since I’ve wished to learn astrodynamics and orbital concepts since I was in my teens). It was a hopeful vision for a future STEM degree in space and a career in the space sector, ideally to work for NASA or the ESA. However, since 2011 I’ve not been able to find a PhD or undergraduate studentship, or funding, for this. Additionally in that time, I spent time pursueing (if unsuccefully) a public service (search & rescue), another career goal and ongoing work effort. Unfortunately, in the time since ideation of the concept and my search efforts, some persons and companies ran with some of my ideas (proof available upon request), leaving me aside. A sense of urgeny to realize this project (a dream-work) has therefore driven me to do so at my expense, and to search for a funded opportunity. If you are interested in helping realize this project, please contact me. I wish to work in a team environment so that I can learn from professionals in the repsective disciplines (astrodynamics, astroinformatics, computer science, ontology engineering, etc.). As my efforts attest, I have developed many paper concepts, and am open to co-authorship, and have identified grants/proposals that can be applied to. I also seek an opportunity as a student for STEM or interdisciplinary space degree (e.g., astronautics, astronautical engienering, astrodynamics, etc). Funding sources, professors, and professionals who have intereste in this project should contact me (rrovetto[@]

About Ontology

Computational ontologies are computer-readable terminologies/taxonomies with a formally-specified semantics. The terminologies are encoded in a language that allows computers to draw inferences and answer user-generated queries. Ontologies can provide knowledge models and a shared vocabulary for software applications to draw from and reason over. Ontology class terms (and formal definitions) provide semantic annotation for database terms, which provides meaning to data that users can access. It therefore serves as a means to share knowledge. ontologies can be developed to varying degrees of abstraction and formality, from the highly generic to the domain-specific, from a set of terms in OWL to a full axiomatic theory of a terminology. Ontology development & engineering is related to the fields of information/data science, linked-data, semantic web, artificial intelligence, and database management. Semantic interoperability, data-exchange, data-fusion, data-mining, data-extraction, and knowledge representation are practical aims of ontologies. Concepts and distinctions from philosophical and formal ontology are often used.


Copyright (c) Robert J. Rovetto 2011-2017.