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Space Domain Awareness Observations Using the Buckland Park VHF Radar

Version 2 2024-04-01, 04:40
Version 1 2024-04-01, 04:39
posted on 2024-04-01, 04:40 authored by David HoldsworthDavid Holdsworth, Iain Reid, Andrew Spargo, christian adami

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 radar, which are low cost relative to other radars typically applied to this task. This paper updates an initial investigation on the use of a VHF wind profiling radar for observing resident space objects in low Earth orbit. The radar was operated during the Australian Defence “SpaceFest” 2019 activity, incorporating new beam scheduling and signal processing capabilities. 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 techniques based on the Keystone transform to correct for range migration, allowing 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. A minimum detectable RCS at 1000 km of -10.97 dB (0.09 m2) was observed. The effects of Faraday rotation resulting from the use of linearly polarised antennas is 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 illustrate satellite rotation characteristics and monitor ionospheric plasma waves and instabilities.


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