A radar to detect hazardous objects in low orbits
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European Space Agency's Space Situational Awareness (SSA) program
announced this week it is developing a radar that will test and validate techniques for observing orbital debris.
SSA is now entering its initial phase with the development of a radar that will help European satellite operators avoid space hazards and enhance safety in Earth orbit, ESA said. The radar will make use of ‘bistatic’ technology, following an earlier, parallel contract between ESA and Spain's Indra Espacio SA to develop a test radar that uses the ‘monostatic’ approach.
In a monostatic radar, ESA explained that the emitter and the receiver are at the same spot and the energy is emitted in discrete pulses. In a bistatic radar, the emitter and receiver are set up at separate locations and the energy is emitted continuously.
The SSA program is enabling Europe to detect hazards to critical space infrastructure. This artist's impression shows a possible design for the future radar system, which will scan low Earth orbits to detect hazardous debris objects and deliver data to a catalogue database.