PARIS – Space debris is a growing problem. European Space Agency said it is developing a radar that will test and validate techniques for observing orbital debris.
In 2009, ESA launched a new program, known as Space Situational Awareness (SSA), that aims to develop Europe's own scanning, detection and warning capabilities against space weather, space debris and natural near-earth objects.
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.
“Both radar designs will help test and validate techniques for observing orbital debris by conducting comparative testing,” commented Gian Maria Pinna, Ground Segment Manager in ESA’s SSA office.
The two radar demonstrators will be part of an initial complex network of sensors, which will also make use of optical telescopes and data processing centers for observation of debris objects in all orbital regions, Pinna continued.
For the new test radar, the emitter will be located at a former airport near Crucey-Villages, about 100 km west of Paris, while the receiver will be near Palaiseau, to the south of Paris.
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Click below to view a video by Swiss Space Center after the launch of the "CleanSpace One" project in Feb. 2012. The aim is to design and build a satellite that will chase, grab and destroy a space debris - namely one of the first Swiss satellites, Swisscube-1 or TIsat-1.