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Radar for Space Observation: Systems, Methods and Applications

A special issue of Remote Sensing (ISSN 2072-4292). This special issue belongs to the section "Environmental Remote Sensing".

Deadline for manuscript submissions: 31 August 2024 | Viewed by 9570

Special Issue Editor


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Guest Editor
Fraunhofer Institute for High Frequency Physics and Radar Techniques FHR, Fraunhoferstraße 20, 53343 Wachtberg, Germany
Interests: radar for space observation; space debris; radar tracking; radar imaging

Special Issue Information

Dear Colleagues,

Space is a finite resource and, as an increasingly congested and contested domain, its long-term sustainability is threatened. Despite the remarkable advances in space applications, situational awareness is still lagging behind modern requirements. According to projections of space traffic, the situation is only expected to deteriorate in the near future. It follows that dependable and actionable data on space objects are in high demand.

Owing to their performance, sensitivity, all-weather, and day and night operation characteristics, radar systems can dramatically increase space domain/situational awareness (SDA/SSA) and contribute to efficient space traffic management (STM). Radars also enable the investigation of populations of space debris as well as detailed observations of individual objects of high interest, both those that are risk-posing or otherwise.

This Special Issue aims to focus on all aspects of radar and related observational and data analysis techniques, applied to the observation of objects occupying any orbital regime in the near-Earth space environment. Articles geared towards, but not limited to, the following broad themes will be considered:

  • the detection, tracking, and orbit determination of satellites and space debris;
  • the large-scale cataloging, identification, characterization, and classification of space objects;
  • radar as an enabler of effective SSA, SDA, and STM;
  • detailed radar observations of individual satellites and space debris;
  • radar imaging and inverse synthetic aperture radar (ISAR);
  • applications of surveillance and reconnaissance in the space domain;
  • new trends and novel techniques in space observation with radar systems;
  • radar applications ensuring long-term sustainability in space, e.g. support in on-orbit servicing, deorbiting, or active debris removal (ADR) missions, etc.;
  • synergies with passive and active sensors at different wavelengths and data fusion systems;
  • radar observations of meteoroids, meteors, and asteroids.

Dr. Vassilis Karamanavis
Guest Editor

Manuscript Submission Information

Manuscripts should be submitted online at www.mdpi.com by registering and logging in to this website. Once you are registered, click here to go to the submission form. Manuscripts can be submitted until the deadline. All submissions that pass pre-check are peer-reviewed. Accepted papers will be published continuously in the journal (as soon as accepted) and will be listed together on the special issue website. Research articles, review articles as well as short communications are invited. For planned papers, a title and short abstract (about 100 words) can be sent to the Editorial Office for announcement on this website.

Submitted manuscripts should not have been published previously, nor be under consideration for publication elsewhere (except conference proceedings papers). All manuscripts are thoroughly refereed through a single-blind peer-review process. A guide for authors and other relevant information for submission of manuscripts is available on the Instructions for Authors page. Remote Sensing is an international peer-reviewed open access semimonthly journal published by MDPI.

Please visit the Instructions for Authors page before submitting a manuscript. The Article Processing Charge (APC) for publication in this open access journal is 2700 CHF (Swiss Francs). Submitted papers should be well formatted and use good English. Authors may use MDPI's English editing service prior to publication or during author revisions.

Keywords

  • space radar
  • radar detection
  • target tracking
  • radar imaging
  • characterization
  • classification
  • SSA
  • surveillance
  • reconnaissance
  • data fusion

Published Papers (10 papers)

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Research

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18 pages, 16994 KiB  
Article
Inverse Synthetic Aperture Radar Imaging of Space Targets Using Wideband Pseudo-Noise Signals with Low Peak-to-Average Power Ratio
by Simon Anger, Matthias Jirousek, Stephan Dill and Markus Peichl
Remote Sens. 2024, 16(10), 1809; https://doi.org/10.3390/rs16101809 - 20 May 2024
Viewed by 262
Abstract
With the number of new satellites increasing dramatically, comprehensive space surveillance is becoming increasingly important. Therefore, high-resolution inverse synthetic aperture radar (ISAR) imaging of satellites can provide an in-situ assessment of the satellites. This paper demonstrates that pseudo-noise signals can also be used [...] Read more.
With the number of new satellites increasing dramatically, comprehensive space surveillance is becoming increasingly important. Therefore, high-resolution inverse synthetic aperture radar (ISAR) imaging of satellites can provide an in-situ assessment of the satellites. This paper demonstrates that pseudo-noise signals can also be used for satellite imaging, in addition to classical linear frequency-modulated chirp signals. Pseudo-noise transmission signals offer the advantage of very low cross-correlation values. This, for instance, enables the possibility of a system with multiple channels transmitting instantaneously. Furthermore, it can significantly reduce signal interference with other systems operating in the same frequency spectrum, which is of particular interest for high-bandwidth, high-power systems such as satellite imaging radars. A new routine has been introduced to generate a wideband pseudo-noise signal with a peak-to-average power ratio (PAPR) similar to that of a chirp signal. This is essential for applications where the transmit signal power budget is sharply limited by the high-power amplifier. The paper presents both theoretical descriptions and analysis of the generated pseudo-noise signal as well as the results of an imaging measurement of a real space target using the introduced pseudo-noise signals. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Radar for Space Observation: Systems, Methods and Applications)
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32 pages, 6124 KiB  
Article
Range-Doppler-Time Tensor Processing for Deep-Space Satellite Characterization Using Narrowband Radar
by Alexander Serrano, Jack Capper, Robert L. Morrison, Jr. and Mohamed D. Abouzahra
Remote Sens. 2024, 16(8), 1374; https://doi.org/10.3390/rs16081374 - 13 Apr 2024
Viewed by 573
Abstract
There is growing demand for the high-fidelity characterization of satellites in Geosynchronous Earth Orbit (GEO) to support Space Domain Awareness (SDA). This is particularly true for newly launched satellites, where it is necessary for satellite providers to ascertain whether components have deployed properly. [...] Read more.
There is growing demand for the high-fidelity characterization of satellites in Geosynchronous Earth Orbit (GEO) to support Space Domain Awareness (SDA). This is particularly true for newly launched satellites, where it is necessary for satellite providers to ascertain whether components have deployed properly. Conventional wideband radar systems are capable of imaging satellites provided that (i) they have sufficient power aperture and bandwidth, and (ii) they observe enough target aspect change to generate a resolved image. While wideband radars are used routinely for characterizing satellites in Low-Earth Orbit (LEO), powerful radars with sensitivity sufficient for large GEO ranges (36,000 km or greater) are lacking. Thus, researchers often rely on more widely available high-power narrowband tracking radars for GEO characterization. In this paper, we present a novel range-Doppler-time (RDT) tensor processing technique for GEO characterization with narrowband radar. This technique encapsulates the strengths of previously proposed methods for narrowband-radar characterization at GEO, providing a generalized approach that can be applied in a variety of settings. The technique generates fully resolved 2D images of rotating GEO satellites in low-bandwidth scenarios. In cases where aspect change is limited, the technique provides detailed Doppler information for enhanced satellite status monitoring. This work presents a comprehensive quantitative analysis of the technique that considers the impact of key parameters on characterization performance. Simulated radar data, and radar data collected in a compact range on a scaled satellite model, are used to evaluate the technique. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Radar for Space Observation: Systems, Methods and Applications)
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24 pages, 7230 KiB  
Article
Space Domain Awareness Observations Using the Buckland Park VHF Radar
by David A. Holdsworth, Andrew J. Spargo, Iain M. Reid and Christian L. Adami
Remote Sens. 2024, 16(7), 1252; https://doi.org/10.3390/rs16071252 - 1 Apr 2024
Viewed by 678
Abstract
There is increasing interest in space domain awareness worldwide, motivating investigation of the use of non-traditional sensors for space surveillance. One such class of sensor is VHF wind profiling radars, which have a low cost relative to other radars typically applied to this [...] Read more.
There is increasing interest in space domain awareness worldwide, motivating investigation of the use of non-traditional sensors for space surveillance. One such class of sensor is VHF wind profiling radars, which have a low cost relative to other radars typically applied to this task. These radars are ubiquitous throughout the world and may potentially offer complementary space surveillance capabilities to the Space Surveillance Network. This paper updates an initial investigation on the use of Buckland Park VHF wind profiling radars for observing resident space objects in low Earth orbit to further investigate the space surveillance capabilities of the sensor class. The radar was operated during the Australian Defence “SpaceFest” 2019 activity, incorporating new beam scheduling and signal processing functionality that extend upon the capabilities described in the initial investigation. The beam scheduling capability used two-line element propagations to determine the appropriate beam direction to use to observe transiting satellites. The signal processing capabilities used a technique based on the Keystone transform to correct for range migration, allowing the development of new signal processing modes that allow the coherent integration time to be increased to improve the SNR of the observed targets, thereby increasing the detection rate. The results reveal that 5874 objects were detected over 10 days, with 2202 unique objects detected, representing a three-fold increase in detection rate over previous single-beam direction observations. The maximum detection height was 2975.4 km, indicating a capability to detect objects in medium Earth orbit. A minimum detectable RCS at 1000 km of −10.97 dBm2 (0.09 m2) was observed. The effects of Faraday rotation resulting from the use of linearly polarised antennae are demonstrated. The radar’s utility for providing total electron content (TEC) measurements is investigated using a high-range resolution mode and high-precision ephemeris data. The short-term Fourier transform is applied to demonstrate the radar’s ability to investigate satellite rotation characteristics and monitor ionospheric plasma waves and instabilities. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Radar for Space Observation: Systems, Methods and Applications)
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30 pages, 1835 KiB  
Article
Numerical Evaluation of Planetary Radar Backscatter Models for Self-Affine Fractal Surfaces
by Anne Virkki
Remote Sens. 2024, 16(5), 890; https://doi.org/10.3390/rs16050890 - 2 Mar 2024
Viewed by 653
Abstract
Numerous analytical radar-scattering laws have been published through the past decades to interpret planetary radar observations, such as Hagfors’ law, which has been commonly used for the Moon, and the cosine law, which is commonly used in the shape modeling of asteroids. Many [...] Read more.
Numerous analytical radar-scattering laws have been published through the past decades to interpret planetary radar observations, such as Hagfors’ law, which has been commonly used for the Moon, and the cosine law, which is commonly used in the shape modeling of asteroids. Many of the laws have not been numerically validated in terms of their interpretation and limitations. This paper evaluates radar-scattering laws for self-affine fractal surfaces using a numerical approach. Traditionally, the autocorrelation function and, more recently, the Hurst exponent, which describes the self-affinity, have been used to quantify the height correlation. Here, hundreds of three-dimensional synthetic surfaces parameterized using a root-mean-square (rms) height and a Hurst exponent were generated, and their backscattering coefficient functions were computed to evaluate their consistency with selected analytical models. The numerical results were also compared to empirical models for roughness and radar-scattering measurements of Hawaii lava flows and found consistent. The Gaussian law performed best at predicting the rms slope regardless of the Hurst exponent. Consistent with the literature, it was found to be the most reliable radar-scattering law for the inverse modeling of the rms slopes and the Fresnel reflection coefficient from the quasi-specular backscattering peak, when homogeneous statistical properties and a ray-optics approach can be assumed. The contribution of multiple scattering in the backscattered power increases as a function of rms slope up to about 20% of the backscattered power at normal incidence when the rms slope angle is 46°. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Radar for Space Observation: Systems, Methods and Applications)
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17 pages, 17331 KiB  
Article
ATLAS: Latest Advancements and First Observations
by João Pandeirada, Miguel Bergano, Paulo Marques, Bruno Coelho, Domingos Barbosa and Mário Figueiredo
Remote Sens. 2024, 16(4), 704; https://doi.org/10.3390/rs16040704 - 17 Feb 2024
Viewed by 927
Abstract
The increasing amount of space debris poses a significant threat to operational satellites and space-based services. This article updates the community on the current status of the development of ATLAS, a tracking radar that is part of the EUSST network and aims to [...] Read more.
The increasing amount of space debris poses a significant threat to operational satellites and space-based services. This article updates the community on the current status of the development of ATLAS, a tracking radar that is part of the EUSST network and aims to detect space objects in low Earth orbits. This article focuses on the latest activities performed: calibration of the pointing system and initial observations of space objects. The calibration procedure consisted of cross-scanning the Solar disk and yielded great results, obtaining an offset of 5.3° in azimuth and 0.10° in elevation. The first observation campaign resulted in 33 range detections of the International Space Station (ISS) with a probability of false alarm of 109. The observations were then used to readjust the radar equation to assess the real-world performance of the system. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Radar for Space Observation: Systems, Methods and Applications)
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24 pages, 10663 KiB  
Article
Space Target Tracking with the HRRP Characteristic-Aided Filter via Space-Based Radar
by Shuyu Zheng, Libing Jiang, Qingwei Yang, Yingjian Zhao and Zhuang Wang
Remote Sens. 2023, 15(19), 4808; https://doi.org/10.3390/rs15194808 - 3 Oct 2023
Cited by 1 | Viewed by 1104
Abstract
Approaching space target tracking is a typical and challenging mission in the space situational awareness (SSA) field. As the space-based radar is able to monitor the space targets of interest full-weather all-time, the space-based radar system is utilized in this paper. However, most [...] Read more.
Approaching space target tracking is a typical and challenging mission in the space situational awareness (SSA) field. As the space-based radar is able to monitor the space targets of interest full-weather all-time, the space-based radar system is utilized in this paper. However, most multi-target tracking (MTT) filters in target tracking studies merely utilize the location or narrow measurements, and many potentially valuable electromagnetic scattering characteristics are missed, which leads to space target false tracking problems. The space-based radar transmits a wide-band signal, and the measured high-resolution range profile (HRRP) information is an effective characteristic for different target discrimination. Therefore, the HRRP characteristics of space targets are implemented into the update recursion of the MTT filter, which can be utilized to improve the tracking performance. Then, to predict the target HRRP sequence, the geometrical theory of diffraction (GTD) model is utilized. Additionally, a modified spatial spectrum method with a novel covariance matrix is designed to improve the scattering parameter estimation accuracy. Finally, an adapting threshold is devised for merging the Gaussian mixture (GM) components weights. The proposed threshold is on the basis of the proposed HRRP characteristic-aided probability hypothesis density (PHD) filter, and it can tackle the problem of space target discrimination. Simulation results validate the effectiveness and robustness of the proposed probability hypothesis density (HGI-PHD) filter aided by HRRP information and improved with GM weights. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Radar for Space Observation: Systems, Methods and Applications)
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22 pages, 43024 KiB  
Article
Joint Power and Bandwidth Allocation with RCS Fluctuation Characteristic for Space Target Tracking
by Qingwei Yang, Libing Jiang, Shuyu Zheng, Yingjian Zhao and Zhuang Wang
Remote Sens. 2023, 15(16), 3971; https://doi.org/10.3390/rs15163971 - 10 Aug 2023
Viewed by 849
Abstract
Reasonable allocation of space-based radar resources is a crucial aspect of improving the accuracy of space multi-target tracking and enhancing spatial awareness. The conventional resource allocation algorithm fails to exploit the high dynamic radar cross-section (RCS) characteristics, resulting in poor tracking robustness, tracking [...] Read more.
Reasonable allocation of space-based radar resources is a crucial aspect of improving the accuracy of space multi-target tracking and enhancing spatial awareness. The conventional resource allocation algorithm fails to exploit the high dynamic radar cross-section (RCS) characteristics, resulting in poor tracking robustness, tracking divergence, or even loss of tracking. However, the RCS of space targets fluctuates considerably in actual tracking scenarios, which cannot be disregarded for space target tracking tasks. To address this issue, we propose an adaptive allocation method that considers the dynamic RCS fluctuation characteristic for space-based radar tracking assignments. The proposed method exploits the predictable orbital information of space target to calculate the real-time observation angle of radar, and then obtains the multi-target dynamic RCS through the target RCS dataset. By combining the obtained RCS sequence, radar power, and bandwidth, an optimal model for radar tracking accuracy is established based on the multi-target posterior Cramér–Rao lower bound (PCRLB) to evaluate the tracking performance. By resolving the aforementioned multivariance optimization problem, we eventually acquire the results of power and bandwidth pre-allocation for tracking multiple space targets. Simulation results validate that, compared with the traditional methods, the proposed joint dynamic RCS power and bandwidth allocation (JRPBA) method can achieve superior tracking accuracy and minimize instances of missed tracking. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Radar for Space Observation: Systems, Methods and Applications)
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21 pages, 6098 KiB  
Article
The Radar Signal Processor of the First Romanian Space Surveillance Radar
by Călin Bîră, Liviu Ionescu and Alexandru Rusu-Casandra
Remote Sens. 2023, 15(14), 3630; https://doi.org/10.3390/rs15143630 - 21 Jul 2023
Viewed by 1368
Abstract
This paper describes the work for the radar signal processor, the core of the Cheia space surveillance radar. It presents the basic operation, the requirements and the achieved processing performance together with a description of optimizations both in terms of signal-to-noise ratio and [...] Read more.
This paper describes the work for the radar signal processor, the core of the Cheia space surveillance radar. It presents the basic operation, the requirements and the achieved processing performance together with a description of optimizations both in terms of signal-to-noise ratio and in terms of software processing. The Cheia Radar is financed by the European Space Agency and will be used for the tracking of low Earth orbit objects and for refining the international catalogs of space objects. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Radar for Space Observation: Systems, Methods and Applications)
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Review

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24 pages, 24671 KiB  
Review
Overview of High-Power and Wideband Radar Technology Development at MIT Lincoln Laboratory
by Michael MacDonald, Mohamed Abouzahra and Justin Stambaugh
Remote Sens. 2024, 16(9), 1530; https://doi.org/10.3390/rs16091530 - 26 Apr 2024
Viewed by 514
Abstract
This paper summarizes over 60 years of radar system development at MIT Lincoln Laboratory, from early research on satellite tracking and planetary radar to the present ability to perform the centimeter-resolution imaging of resident space objects and future plans to extend this capability [...] Read more.
This paper summarizes over 60 years of radar system development at MIT Lincoln Laboratory, from early research on satellite tracking and planetary radar to the present ability to perform the centimeter-resolution imaging of resident space objects and future plans to extend this capability to geosynchronous range. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Radar for Space Observation: Systems, Methods and Applications)
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Other

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16 pages, 16925 KiB  
Technical Note
Micro-Doppler Signature Analysis for Space Domain Awareness Using VHF Radar
by Emma Heading, Si Tran Nguyen, David Holdsworth and Iain M. Reid
Remote Sens. 2024, 16(8), 1354; https://doi.org/10.3390/rs16081354 - 12 Apr 2024
Cited by 1 | Viewed by 523
Abstract
The large quantity of resident space objects orbiting Earth poses a threat to safety and efficient operations in space. Radar sensors are well suited to detecting objects in space including decommissioned satellites and debris, whereas the more commonly used optical sensors are limited [...] Read more.
The large quantity of resident space objects orbiting Earth poses a threat to safety and efficient operations in space. Radar sensors are well suited to detecting objects in space including decommissioned satellites and debris, whereas the more commonly used optical sensors are limited by daylight and weather conditions. Observations of three non-operational satellites using a VHF radar system are presented in this paper in the form of micro Doppler signatures associated with rotational motion. Micro Doppler signatures are particularly useful for characterising resident space objects at VHF given the limited bandwidth resulting in poor range resolution. Electromagnetic simulations of the micro Doppler signatures of the defunct satellites are also presented using simple computer-aided design (CAD) models to assist with interpretation of the radar observations. The simulated micro Doppler results are verified using the VHF radar data and provide insight into the attitude and spin axis of the three resident space objects. As future work, this approach will be extended to a larger number of resident space objects which requires a automated processing. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Radar for Space Observation: Systems, Methods and Applications)
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