EOIR: Thermal Tracking from Space

You don’t need to be an expert to do expert level analysis. With STK’s Electo-Optical Infrared (EOIR) tool, you can build your systems in space, on the ground, and in the air using STK’s physics-based engine. Using this integrated tool, you can build a mission in any domain, with any type of target, and utilize the sensor modeling capabilities of EOIR to see what your onboard system would see.

EOIR gives you the ability to model detection, tracking, and imaging of your system. In the Thermal Tracking Hard Targets Webinar, we give three examples that exemplify the multi-domain and ease of use of EOIR. With EOIR, you are able to quickly build and analyze your study.

Follow along as we model a space-based system observing three very different targets and the challenges in each setup. A goal of STK and EOIR is to enable you to quickly build and understand the study. We talk about each setup and think about the context of each mission.

Tracking Hard Targets Webinar

Space-based target

In the first model, we create a space to space mission. Our main target is a small sat in low earth orbit. We see from our study that some of our initial challenges are detecting our target against the background. In the visible band, this is very hard, so we switch to infrared and redo our study.

Using STK, we don’t need to rebuild our mission. We quickly switch our tactics and readdress the problem. Using other STK tools, such as the Space Environment and Effects Tool (SEET), we incorporate thermal models into our study. Using STK EOIR, we gain a holistic understanding of what our systems in space would experience, and optimize the design.

Ground-based target

Our next study looks at a ground-based target. Our satellite observes a target on the ground. In this case, our targets are wild fires.

Using MATLAB, we create custom reflectance, emissivity, and temperature maps to use in this analysis. Then in STK, we look at the wild fires in the context of our mission and vary the onboard thermal sensor parameters to help us get the best results.

With the synthetic scene generation, we run each setup and compare results to decide which is best for our goal.

Air-based target

Our final study is a space-based system following a hypersonic aircraft. With tools such as  STK Aviator, we  model a hypersonic vehicle as it travels across the country.

The first two exercises highlight how to use basic models with custom inputs. For this exercise, we need a unique temperature profile to represent the different temperature effects that would occur given this particular hypersonic vehicle's flight parameters. The challenge here is not only the standard one of sensor modeling, but also understanding the related geometry between our system and the target it’s tracking.


As you can see, in each one of our studies there are unique challenges, but we're able to utilize the multi-domain, physics-based engine of STK along with advanced analysis capabilities (SEET, custom property maps, or temperature profiles) to understand our studies in a nuanced way.

In each study, we take a mission-focused approach and incorporate components that would not necessarily be brought up with a standard sensor analysis (such as thermal profiles, geometry, lighting, and angle between objects).

And there you go, that’s how you do expert level analysis with STK.

Learn More

Interested in modeling missions in all domains, and then using industry standard software to verify and validate your analysis? Learn more by accessing the following resources:

Tracking Hard Targets Overview


Model electro-optical and infrared sensor performance.

Space Environment Effects Tool

Add space environment variables to your orbit modeling and analysis.

Systems Tool Kit (STK)

Modeling and simulation software for digital mission engineering and systems analysis.