2018 Beam-park observations of space debris with the EISCAT radars
AuthorVierinen, Juha; Kastinen, D; Markkanen, Jussi; Grydeland, Tom; Kero, Johan; Horstmann, A.; Hesselbach, S.; Kebschull, C.; Røynestad, Elisabeth; Krag, Holger
Monitoring the evolution of the space debris environment requires regular radar observations of the space debris population. This study presents the results from 24 hours of beam-park observations of space objects conducted simultaneously with the EISCAT Svalbard and Tromsø radars on and between January 4th and 5th, 2018. The measurements are processed with a new matched filter bank analysis program, which doubles the coherent integration time, and hence sensitivity, compared with the previous program. We observe 2077 objects with the Tromsø radar and 2400 objects with the Svalbard radar. The detections are correlated with the NORAD catalog. We find that 68% of the Tromsø and 85% of the Svalbard radar detections are from objects in the NORAD catalog, with most of the catalog object detections being in the side lobes of the radar antenna. The beam-park data are compared with a simulated beam-park experiment for catalog objects. The simulation uses a radar detection model that includes the effects of coherent integration and an antenna beam shape with side lobes. We find that the simulation agrees well with the measurements, indicating that the radar sensor response is accurately modeled. Our results highlight the importance of modeling antenna side lobes when analyzing beam-park measurements. Not taking taking into account side lobe detections can lead to an underestimation of radar cross-sections and an overestimation of population density.