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CubeSat-based passive bistatic radar for space situational awareness : a feasibility study

Persico, Adriano Rosario and Kirkland, Paul and Clemente, Carmine and Soraghan, John J. and Vasile, Massimiliano (2019) CubeSat-based passive bistatic radar for space situational awareness : a feasibility study. IEEE Transactions on Aerospace and Electronic Systems, 55 (1). pp. 476-485. ISSN 0018-9251

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Abstract

This paper proposes a low budget solution to detect and possibly track space debris and satellites in Low Earth Orbit. The concept consists of a space-borne radar installed on a cubeSat flying at low altitude and detecting the occultations of radio signals coming from existing satellites flying at higher altitudes. The paper investigates the feasibility and performance of such a passive bistatic radar system. Key performance metrics considered in this paper are: the minimum size of detectable objects, considering visibility and frequency constraints on existing radio sources, the receiver size and the compatibility with current cubeSat's technology. Different illuminator types and receiver altitudes are considered under the assumption that all illuminators and receivers are on circular orbits.