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An 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.