Forum for Science, Industry and Business

Sponsored by:     3M 
Search our Site:

 

Space observation with radar to secure Germany's space infrastructure

23.03.2018

Satellites in near-Earth orbit are at risk due to the steady increase in space debris. But their mission in the areas of telecommunications, navigation or weather forecasts is essential for society. Fraunhofer FHR therefore develops radar-based systems which allow the detection, tracking and cataloging of even the smallest particles of debris. Satellite operators who have access to our data are in a better position to plan evasive maneuvers and prevent destructive collisions. From April, 25-29 2018, Fraunhofer FHR and its partners will exhibit the complementary radar systems TIRA and GESTRA as well as the latest radar techniques for space observation across three stands at the ILA Berlin.

The "traffic situation" in space is very tense: the Earth is currently being orbited not only by countless satellites but also by a large volume of space debris resulting, for example, from burned-out rocket stages and fragments of exploded space objects. These are gradually transforming the orbit into a junkyard. Approximately 20,000 objects with a minimum diameter of ten centimeters are presently orbiting the Earth at an average speed of 25,000 kilometers per hour. Added to this are 700,000 smaller objects with a diameter greater than one centimeter.


The space observation radar TIRA (left) and the transmit shelter (right) of the space surveillance radar GESTRA.

Fraunhofer FHR

Due to their enormous speed, these small debris particles can also damage or destroy active satellites. Even more disturbing: the space debris population is steadily growing due to a snowball effect. When two particles collide they create new, smaller particles. In the absence of appropriate countermeasures, the junkyard is expanding rapidly and could put an end to space travel.

Radar warns of space debris

Collisions between space debris and satellites can be prevented by means of evasive maneuvers. Maneuvers of this kind are, however, time consuming and tie up valuable resources and are therefore only required by operators when the satellite is in real danger. Comprehensive cataloging of the space objects and high-precision orbit determination of the potential collision objects are essential to assess this risk. Radar systems can carry out both of these tasks.

Radar ideal for damage analysis

A total loss of contact between an operator and his satellite may well be attributable to damage caused to the satellite by space debris. Imaging radar systems have two important advantages: they can operate during the day or at night and they are completely independent of the weather conditions. Hence, they are capable of detecting and analyzing damageat any time. Furthermore, the resolution of the radar – in contrast to optical systems – is distance-independent. As a result, the operator's mission can be optimally supported through the timely provision of important information.

TIRA: High-precision tracking and high-resolution imaging of space objects

With its tracking and imaging radar TIRA, the institute in Wachtberg near Bonn possesses a space observation system with capabilities that are unique throughout Europe. This system combines a highly dynamic 34-meter parabolic dish antenna with a high-precision tracking radar in L-band and a high-resolution imaging radar in Ku-band.

Typical tasks, apart from orbit determination and damage analysis, include the identification and technical analysis of satellites. This is possible due to the imaging radar and its radar images which are characterized by high radiometric and spatial resolution.

Moreover, all phases of the space mission, extending from the launch and operational phases to the re-entry phase, can be supported with the radar data from TIRA.

The researchers also focus on the further development of technologies, processes and algorithms to ensure that radar can be used to extract a maximum of information on space objects – from active satellites to space debris.

GESTRA: Wide-range space surveillance with leading-edge technology

Seamless and continuous space surveillance requires yet another type of radar: Helmut Wilden, Project Leader GESTRA (German Experimental Space Surveillance and Tracking Radar) explains: "Phased arrays, i.e. electronically controlled array antennas, are capable of conducting large-scale space surveillance in near-Earth space around the clock. Using electronic beamforming, they can change their line of sight in a fraction of a second.

The new space surveillance radar GESTRA, which is currently being developed by Fraunhofer FHR for the aerospace management of the German Aerospace Center [Deutsches Zentrum für Luft- und Raumfahrt (DLR)], is equipped with an electronically steerable antenna. This antenna system is able to scan large areas of the sky within milliseconds due to the integration of the latest semiconductor technology. The sensor consists of a transmit and receive module, each of which is integrated into an 18 m x 4 m x 4 m shelter. Due to its compact design, GESTRA is a mobile system which can be transported to any required location.

When put into operation in 2019, wide-range surveillance of the debris population in near-Earth space (orbital heights of 300 km and 3000 km) will be possible from German territory for the first time. GESTRA will then operate continuously to create a catalog of the debris in near-Earth space. This new data basis will have a great influence on the further development and operation of the space infrastructure of Germany and Europe.

Expertise at Fraunhofer FHR

In addition to the ability to design the hardware needed for such systems, the institute also has the expertise necessary for the development of the corresponding radar operation control software. The development of complex algorithms for best possible processing of the signals from the received radar data is a further core competency.

Dr. Delphine Cerutti-Maori, Spokesperson for the business unit Space underlines: "With its tracking and imaging radar TIRA, Fraunhofer FHR has a unique radar system for the high-precision determination of orbital data and the high-resolution imaging of space objects. As objects that are catalogued with GESTRA can, on a case-by-case basis, be analyzed with TIRA, these two radar systems have the potential to compliment each other in the future."

Weitere Informationen:

https://www.fhr.fraunhofer.de/ila-space-radar Press Release
https://www.fhr.fraunhofer.de/en/events/ila-berlin-2018.html More about Fraunhofer FHR at the ILA Messe 2018

Jens Fiege | Fraunhofer-Institut für Hochfrequenzphysik und Radartechnik FHR

More articles from Physics and Astronomy:

nachricht Structured light and nanomaterials open new ways to tailor light at the nanoscale
23.04.2018 | Academy of Finland

nachricht On the shape of the 'petal' for the dissipation curve
23.04.2018 | Lobachevsky University

All articles from Physics and Astronomy >>>

The most recent press releases about innovation >>>

Die letzten 5 Focus-News des innovations-reports im Überblick:

Im Focus: BAM@Hannover Messe: innovative 3D printing method for space flight

At the Hannover Messe 2018, the Bundesanstalt für Materialforschung und-prüfung (BAM) will show how, in the future, astronauts could produce their own tools or spare parts in zero gravity using 3D printing. This will reduce, weight and transport costs for space missions. Visitors can experience the innovative additive manufacturing process live at the fair.

Powder-based additive manufacturing in zero gravity is the name of the project in which a component is produced by applying metallic powder layers and then...

Im Focus: Molecules Brilliantly Illuminated

Physicists at the Laboratory for Attosecond Physics, which is jointly run by Ludwig-Maximilians-Universität and the Max Planck Institute of Quantum Optics, have developed a high-power laser system that generates ultrashort pulses of light covering a large share of the mid-infrared spectrum. The researchers envisage a wide range of applications for the technology – in the early diagnosis of cancer, for instance.

Molecules are the building blocks of life. Like all other organisms, we are made of them. They control our biorhythm, and they can also reflect our state of...

Im Focus: Spider silk key to new bone-fixing composite

University of Connecticut researchers have created a biodegradable composite made of silk fibers that can be used to repair broken load-bearing bones without the complications sometimes presented by other materials.

Repairing major load-bearing bones such as those in the leg can be a long and uncomfortable process.

Im Focus: Writing and deleting magnets with lasers

Study published in the journal ACS Applied Materials & Interfaces is the outcome of an international effort that included teams from Dresden and Berlin in Germany, and the US.

Scientists at the Helmholtz-Zentrum Dresden-Rossendorf (HZDR) together with colleagues from the Helmholtz-Zentrum Berlin (HZB) and the University of Virginia...

Im Focus: Gamma-ray flashes from plasma filaments

Novel highly efficient and brilliant gamma-ray source: Based on model calculations, physicists of the Max PIanck Institute for Nuclear Physics in Heidelberg propose a novel method for an efficient high-brilliance gamma-ray source. A giant collimated gamma-ray pulse is generated from the interaction of a dense ultra-relativistic electron beam with a thin solid conductor. Energetic gamma-rays are copiously produced as the electron beam splits into filaments while propagating across the conductor. The resulting gamma-ray energy and flux enable novel experiments in nuclear and fundamental physics.

The typical wavelength of light interacting with an object of the microcosm scales with the size of this object. For atoms, this ranges from visible light to...

All Focus news of the innovation-report >>>

Anzeige

Anzeige

VideoLinks
Industry & Economy
Event News

Invitation to the upcoming "Current Topics in Bioinformatics: Big Data in Genomics and Medicine"

13.04.2018 | Event News

Unique scope of UV LED technologies and applications presented in Berlin: ICULTA-2018

12.04.2018 | Event News

IWOLIA: A conference bringing together German Industrie 4.0 and French Industrie du Futur

09.04.2018 | Event News

 
Latest News

Quantum Technology for Advanced Imaging – QUILT

24.04.2018 | Information Technology

AWI researchers measure a record concentration of microplastic in arctic sea ice

24.04.2018 | Earth Sciences

Complete skin regeneration system of fish unraveled

24.04.2018 | Life Sciences

VideoLinks
Science & Research
Overview of more VideoLinks >>>