ESA deploys first orbital debris test radar in Spain

A new radar designed to test methods for finding orbital debris that can be hazardous to space navigation has been installed in Spain. The radar will be used to develop future debris warning services, helping boost safety for European satellite…

A new radar designed to test methods for finding orbital debris that can be hazardous to space navigation has been installed in Spain. The radar will be used to develop future debris warning services, helping boost safety for European satellite operators.

Following an 18-month design and development phase, the radar was installed near Santorcaz, about 30 km from Madrid, and the first series of acceptance and validation tests are scheduled to begin in mid-November.
ESA’s Space Situational Awareness (SSA) programme office and Spain’s Indra Espacio S.A. signed a €4.7-million contract to build the radar in 2010.

Early debris detection is crucial to help warn satellite operators of collision risks and enable avoidance manoeuvres to be made.

Indra Espacio is the prime industrial partner and is responsible for the design and development of the radar transmitter. The development of the radar receiver was subcontracted to the Fraunhofer Institute for High Frequency Physics and Radar Techniques (FHR), Wachtberg, Germany.

Significant milestone in ESA’s SSA programme

“Installation of the test radar at Santorcaz is a significant milestone in ESA’s SSA programme,” says Nicolas Bobrinsky, Head of ESA’s Space Situational Awareness Preparatory Programme.
“Fielding a so-called ‘breadboard’ radar means that Spanish and German industry are developing world-class technical expertise in the radar detection of hazardous space debris.”
‘Breadboard’ means that the radar is easily reconfigurable depending on test results, helping engineers optimise its performance over time.
Test radar uses ‘monostatic’ design to detect debris
The radar deployed in Spain by ESA makes use of the ‘monostatic’ design, in which the transmitter and receiver are co-located within just a few hundred meters.
A second contract to develop a ‘bistatic’ design radar, in which the transmitter and receiver are separated by several hundreds of kilometres, was signed with a separate industrial grouping in September 2012.
“This monostatic radar will be used to demonstrate and validate radar technologies for space debris surveillance in low-altitude orbits,” says Gian Maria Pinna, Ground Segment Manager in ESA’s SSA office.
“Although the capabilities of the test radar are limited, its design will allow us to achieve considerable understanding of the technical problems inherent in orbital debris detection with radar techniques, a know-how that ESA is increasingly building-up via the SSA Programme.”
In the future, the two test radars, bistatic and monostatic, will be joined by an initial set of optical telescopes for the surveillance of higher altitude orbits, and the entire system will be incrementally improved to develop precursor warning services for satellite operators.

Provided by

European Space Agency

view popular
send feedback to editors

not rated yet

1
2
3
4
5

Rank

1
2
3
4
5

not rated yet

more news

Related Stories

Apr 01, 2011
0
European space scout

Mar 07, 2011
0
UK technology scans the skies for space hazards

Nov 19, 2010
0
Lockheed Martin submits bid for Space Fence

Mar 09, 2012
0
Radar prototype begins tracking down space junk

Relevant PhysicsForums posts

Does Light Exist Outside Time
23 hours ago
In relativity, it says that faster you approach the speed of light, the more things slow down. Is this on a sensory level, or actually, physically slow down?

I mean, if light were “outside” time,…

ways to decelerate satellites
Oct 12, 2012
How can decelerating force would be applied to satellite in order to slow it down?

Imaging Fomalhauts Debris Disk
Oct 12, 2012
This is my first attempt at imaging a debris disk around a star. I chose Fomalhaut because, as far as I can tell, there are no other stars visible at this time of year in the northern hemisphere with…

determine starting and ending days
Oct 11, 2012
for a place in the frigid zone, where the longitude is greater than 66.56 degrees, determine

(a) the starting day and ending day in a year that the sun never sets

(b) the starting day in a year…

Radio Telescope Question
Oct 10, 2012
Alright, I know about optical telescopes, but I haven’t a clue how a radio telescope forms an image. I’m used to pixels on CCD’s measuring photon counts, but how are the radio waves detected and an…

Glese581d and tectonics for life
Oct 08, 2012
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Gliese_581_d

How far away are we in the study of exoplanets to find such detail as tectonic activity?

Edit.

ooops missed this url…

More from Physics Forums – General Astronomy

More news stories

Armchair astronomers find planet in quadruple star system

(Phys.org)—A joint effort of citizen scientists and professional astronomers has led to the first reported case of a planet orbiting twin suns that in turn is orbited by a second distant pair of stars.

Space & Earth / Astronomy

9 hours ago |
4.7 / 5 (6) |
1
|

WISE colors in unknowns on Jupiter asteroids

(Phys.org)—Scientists using data from NASA’s Wide-field Infrared Survey Explorer, or WISE, have uncovered new clues in the ongoing mystery of the Jovian Trojans—asteroids that orbit the sun on the same …

Space & Earth / Space Exploration

10 hours ago |
4.8 / 5 (4) |
1
|

Curiosity rover’s second scoop discarded, third scoop commanded

(Phys.org)—Commands will be sent to Curiosity today instructing the rover to collect a third scoop of soil from the “Rocknest” site of windblown Martian sand and dust. Pending evaluation of this Sol 69 …

Space & Earth / Space Exploration

10 hours ago |
5 / 5 (2) |
4
|

Study: Climate negotiations relying on ‘dangerous’ thresholds to avoid catastrophe will not succeed

The identified critical threshold for dangerous climate change saying that the increase in global temperature should be below 2 degrees Celsius seems not to have helped the climate negotiations so far. New research from the …

Space & Earth / Environment

11 hours ago |
4 / 5 (8) |
2
|

Study: Tropical cyclones are occurring more frequently than before

Are there more tropical cyclones now than in the past? – or is it just something we believe because we now hear more about them through media coverage and are better able detect them with satellites? New …

Space & Earth / Earth Sciences

13 hours ago |
4.1 / 5 (9) |
3
|

Forensic speciation: Splicing genetic and phylogenic trees of life

(Phys.org)—The Tree of Life is a beautiful and elegant metaphor that has proven deceptively difficult to reconstruct. The main culprit may be the overwhelming reliance on so-called concatenation methods, which …

Biology / Biotechnology
14 hours ago |
4.2 / 5 (5) |
2
|

Genomic hitchhikers in birds shed light on evolution of viruses

The genomes of birds are riddled with DNA sequences from viruses, according to a study to be published on October 16 in mBio, the online open-access journal of the American Society for Microbiology. Analysis of these viral …

Biology / Biotechnology
4 hours ago |
5 / 5 (1) |
0
|

Accelerators can search for signs of Planck-scale gravity

(Phys.org)—Although quantum theory can explain three of the four forces in nature, scientists currently rely on general relativity to explain the fourth force, gravity. However, no one is quite sure of …

Physics / General Physics
18 hours ago |
5 / 5 (19) |
17
|

Language structure arises from balance of clear and effective communication

When learning a new language, we automatically organize words into sentences that will be both clearly understood and efficient (quick) to communicate. That’s the finding of a new study reported today in the Proceedings of …

Other Sciences / Social Sciences
13 hours ago |
not rated yet |
1
|

Neuroscientists isolate molecular ‘when’ and ‘where’ of memory formation

Neuroscientists from New York University and the University of California, Irvine have isolated the “when” and “where” of molecular activity that occurs in the formation of short-, intermediate-, and long-term memories. Their …

Medicine & Health / Neuroscience
13 hours ago |
5 / 5 (1) |
0
|

Big, rapid gains made in human lifespan: study

(HealthDay)—It’s said that life is short. But people living in developed countries typically survive more than twice as long as their hunter-gatherer ancestors did, making 72 the new 30, according to new …

Medicine & Health / Medical research
10 hours ago |
5 / 5 (1) |
4
|