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Development of the First Portuguese Radar Tracking Sensor for Space Debris

Pandeirada, J. Pandeirada ; Bergano , MB ; Neves, J.N. ; Marques, P. M. ; Barbosa , D. ; Coelho, B. ; Ribeiro, V.

signals Vol. 2, Nº 1, pp. 122 - 137, March, 2021.

ISSN (print): 2624-6120
ISSN (online):

Scimago Journal Ranking: (in )

Digital Object Identifier: 10.3390/signals2010011

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Currently, space debris represents a threat for satellites and space-based operations, both in-orbit and during the launching process. The yearly increase in space debris represents a serious concern to major space agencies leading to the development of dedicated space programs to deal with this issue. Ground-based radars can detect Earth orbiting debris down to a few square centimeters and therefore constitute a major building block of a space debris monitoring system. New radar sensors are required in Europe to enhance capabilities and availability of its small radar network capable of tracking and surveying space objects and to respond to the debris increase expected from the New Space economy activities. This article presents ATLAS, a new tracking radar system for debris detection located in Portugal. It starts by an extensive technical description of all the system components followed by a study that estimates its future performance. A section dedicated to waveform design is also presented, since the system allows the usage of several types of pulse modulation schemes such as LFM and phase coded modulations while enabling the development and testing of more advanced ones. By presenting an architecture that is highly modular with fully digital signal processing, ATLAS establishes a platform for fast and easy development, research, and innovation. The system follows the use of Commercial-Off-The-Shelf technologies and Open Systems which is unique among current radar systems.