On the detection and tracking of space debris using the murchison widefield array. I. Simulations and test observations demonstrate feasibility

S. J. Tingay, D. L. Kaplan, B. McKinley, F. Briggs, R. B. Wayth, N. Hurley-Walker, J. Kennewell, C. Smith, K. Zhang, W. Arcus, N. D R Bhat, D. Emrich, D. Herne, N. Kudryavtseva, M. Lynch, S. M. Ord, M. Waterson, D. G. Barnes, M. Bell, B. M. GaenslerE. Lenc, G. Bernardi, L. J. Greenhill, J. C. Kasper, Judd Bowman, Daniel Jacobs, J. D. Bunton, L. Desouza, R. Koenig, J. Pathikulangara, J. Stevens, R. J. Cappallo, B. E. Corey, B. B. Kincaid, E. Kratzenberg, C. J. Lonsdale, S. R. McWhirter, A. E E Rogers, J. E. Salah, A. R. Whitney, A. Deshpande, T. Prabu, N. Udaya Shankar, K. S. Srivani, R. Subrahmanyan, A. Ewall-Wice, L. Feng, R. Goeke, E. Morgan, R. A. Remillard, C. L. Williams, B. J. Hazelton, M. F. Morales, M. Johnston-Hollitt, D. A. Mitchell, P. Procopio, J. Riding, R. L. Webster, J. S B Wyithe, D. Oberoi, A. Roshi, R. J. Sault, A. Williams

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

16 Citations (Scopus)

Abstract

The Murchison Widefield Array (MWA) is a new low-frequency interferometric radio telescope, operating in the benign radio frequency environment of remote Western Australia. The MWA is the low-frequency precursor to the Square Kilometre Array (SKA) and is the first of three SKA precursors to be operational, supporting a varied science mission ranging from the attempted detection of the Epoch of Reionization to the monitoring of solar flares and space weather. In this paper we explore the possibility that the MWA can be used for the purposes of Space Situational Awareness (SSA). In particular we propose that the MWA can be used as an element of a passive radar facility operating in the frequency range 87.5-108 MHz (the commercial FM broadcast band). In this scenario the MWA can be considered the receiving element in a bi-static radar configuration, with FM broadcast stations serving as non-cooperative transmitters. The FM broadcasts propagate into space, are reflected off debris in Earth orbit, and are received at the MWA. The imaging capabilities of the MWA can be used to simultaneously detect multiple pieces of space debris, image their positions on the sky as a function of time, and provide tracking data that can be used to determine orbital parameters. Such a capability would be a valuable addition to Australian and global SSA assets, in terms of southern and eastern hemispheric coverage. We provide a feasibility assessment of this proposal, based on simple calculations and electromagnetic simulations, that shows that the detection of sub-meter size debris should be possible (debris radius of >0.5 m to ∼1000 km altitude). We also present a proof-of-concept set of observations that demonstrate the feasibility of the proposal, based on the detection and tracking of the International Space Station via reflected FM broadcast signals originating in southwest Western Australia. These observations broadly validate our calculations and simulations. We discuss some significant challenges that need to be addressed in order to turn the feasible concept into a robust operational capability for SSA. The aggregate received power due to reflections off space debris in the FM band is equivalent to a <1 mJy increase in the background confusion noise for the long integrations needed for Epoch of Reionization experiments, which is insignificant.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article number103
JournalAstronomical Journal
Volume146
Issue number4
DOIs
StatePublished - Oct 2013

Fingerprint

space debris
frequency modulation
simulation
situational awareness
debris
radar
proposals
time measurement
radio
low frequencies
test
detection
space weather
Earth orbits
confusion
radio telescopes
International Space Station
solar flares
weather
transmitters

Keywords

  • Earth
  • instrumentation: interferometers
  • planets and satellites: general
  • planets and satellites: individual (International Space Station)
  • techniques: radar astronomy

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Space and Planetary Science
  • Astronomy and Astrophysics

Cite this

On the detection and tracking of space debris using the murchison widefield array. I. Simulations and test observations demonstrate feasibility. / Tingay, S. J.; Kaplan, D. L.; McKinley, B.; Briggs, F.; Wayth, R. B.; Hurley-Walker, N.; Kennewell, J.; Smith, C.; Zhang, K.; Arcus, W.; Bhat, N. D R; Emrich, D.; Herne, D.; Kudryavtseva, N.; Lynch, M.; Ord, S. M.; Waterson, M.; Barnes, D. G.; Bell, M.; Gaensler, B. M.; Lenc, E.; Bernardi, G.; Greenhill, L. J.; Kasper, J. C.; Bowman, Judd; Jacobs, Daniel; Bunton, J. D.; Desouza, L.; Koenig, R.; Pathikulangara, J.; Stevens, J.; Cappallo, R. J.; Corey, B. E.; Kincaid, B. B.; Kratzenberg, E.; Lonsdale, C. J.; McWhirter, S. R.; Rogers, A. E E; Salah, J. E.; Whitney, A. R.; Deshpande, A.; Prabu, T.; Udaya Shankar, N.; Srivani, K. S.; Subrahmanyan, R.; Ewall-Wice, A.; Feng, L.; Goeke, R.; Morgan, E.; Remillard, R. A.; Williams, C. L.; Hazelton, B. J.; Morales, M. F.; Johnston-Hollitt, M.; Mitchell, D. A.; Procopio, P.; Riding, J.; Webster, R. L.; Wyithe, J. S B; Oberoi, D.; Roshi, A.; Sault, R. J.; Williams, A.

In: Astronomical Journal, Vol. 146, No. 4, 103, 10.2013.

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

Tingay, SJ, Kaplan, DL, McKinley, B, Briggs, F, Wayth, RB, Hurley-Walker, N, Kennewell, J, Smith, C, Zhang, K, Arcus, W, Bhat, NDR, Emrich, D, Herne, D, Kudryavtseva, N, Lynch, M, Ord, SM, Waterson, M, Barnes, DG, Bell, M, Gaensler, BM, Lenc, E, Bernardi, G, Greenhill, LJ, Kasper, JC, Bowman, J, Jacobs, D, Bunton, JD, Desouza, L, Koenig, R, Pathikulangara, J, Stevens, J, Cappallo, RJ, Corey, BE, Kincaid, BB, Kratzenberg, E, Lonsdale, CJ, McWhirter, SR, Rogers, AEE, Salah, JE, Whitney, AR, Deshpande, A, Prabu, T, Udaya Shankar, N, Srivani, KS, Subrahmanyan, R, Ewall-Wice, A, Feng, L, Goeke, R, Morgan, E, Remillard, RA, Williams, CL, Hazelton, BJ, Morales, MF, Johnston-Hollitt, M, Mitchell, DA, Procopio, P, Riding, J, Webster, RL, Wyithe, JSB, Oberoi, D, Roshi, A, Sault, RJ & Williams, A 2013, 'On the detection and tracking of space debris using the murchison widefield array. I. Simulations and test observations demonstrate feasibility', Astronomical Journal, vol. 146, no. 4, 103. https://doi.org/10.1088/0004-6256/146/4/103
Tingay, S. J. ; Kaplan, D. L. ; McKinley, B. ; Briggs, F. ; Wayth, R. B. ; Hurley-Walker, N. ; Kennewell, J. ; Smith, C. ; Zhang, K. ; Arcus, W. ; Bhat, N. D R ; Emrich, D. ; Herne, D. ; Kudryavtseva, N. ; Lynch, M. ; Ord, S. M. ; Waterson, M. ; Barnes, D. G. ; Bell, M. ; Gaensler, B. M. ; Lenc, E. ; Bernardi, G. ; Greenhill, L. J. ; Kasper, J. C. ; Bowman, Judd ; Jacobs, Daniel ; Bunton, J. D. ; Desouza, L. ; Koenig, R. ; Pathikulangara, J. ; Stevens, J. ; Cappallo, R. J. ; Corey, B. E. ; Kincaid, B. B. ; Kratzenberg, E. ; Lonsdale, C. J. ; McWhirter, S. R. ; Rogers, A. E E ; Salah, J. E. ; Whitney, A. R. ; Deshpande, A. ; Prabu, T. ; Udaya Shankar, N. ; Srivani, K. S. ; Subrahmanyan, R. ; Ewall-Wice, A. ; Feng, L. ; Goeke, R. ; Morgan, E. ; Remillard, R. A. ; Williams, C. L. ; Hazelton, B. J. ; Morales, M. F. ; Johnston-Hollitt, M. ; Mitchell, D. A. ; Procopio, P. ; Riding, J. ; Webster, R. L. ; Wyithe, J. S B ; Oberoi, D. ; Roshi, A. ; Sault, R. J. ; Williams, A. / On the detection and tracking of space debris using the murchison widefield array. I. Simulations and test observations demonstrate feasibility. In: Astronomical Journal. 2013 ; Vol. 146, No. 4.
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abstract = "The Murchison Widefield Array (MWA) is a new low-frequency interferometric radio telescope, operating in the benign radio frequency environment of remote Western Australia. The MWA is the low-frequency precursor to the Square Kilometre Array (SKA) and is the first of three SKA precursors to be operational, supporting a varied science mission ranging from the attempted detection of the Epoch of Reionization to the monitoring of solar flares and space weather. In this paper we explore the possibility that the MWA can be used for the purposes of Space Situational Awareness (SSA). In particular we propose that the MWA can be used as an element of a passive radar facility operating in the frequency range 87.5-108 MHz (the commercial FM broadcast band). In this scenario the MWA can be considered the receiving element in a bi-static radar configuration, with FM broadcast stations serving as non-cooperative transmitters. The FM broadcasts propagate into space, are reflected off debris in Earth orbit, and are received at the MWA. The imaging capabilities of the MWA can be used to simultaneously detect multiple pieces of space debris, image their positions on the sky as a function of time, and provide tracking data that can be used to determine orbital parameters. Such a capability would be a valuable addition to Australian and global SSA assets, in terms of southern and eastern hemispheric coverage. We provide a feasibility assessment of this proposal, based on simple calculations and electromagnetic simulations, that shows that the detection of sub-meter size debris should be possible (debris radius of >0.5 m to ∼1000 km altitude). We also present a proof-of-concept set of observations that demonstrate the feasibility of the proposal, based on the detection and tracking of the International Space Station via reflected FM broadcast signals originating in southwest Western Australia. These observations broadly validate our calculations and simulations. We discuss some significant challenges that need to be addressed in order to turn the feasible concept into a robust operational capability for SSA. The aggregate received power due to reflections off space debris in the FM band is equivalent to a <1 mJy increase in the background confusion noise for the long integrations needed for Epoch of Reionization experiments, which is insignificant.",
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T1 - On the detection and tracking of space debris using the murchison widefield array. I. Simulations and test observations demonstrate feasibility

AU - Tingay, S. J.

AU - Kaplan, D. L.

AU - McKinley, B.

AU - Briggs, F.

AU - Wayth, R. B.

AU - Hurley-Walker, N.

AU - Kennewell, J.

AU - Smith, C.

AU - Zhang, K.

AU - Arcus, W.

AU - Bhat, N. D R

AU - Emrich, D.

AU - Herne, D.

AU - Kudryavtseva, N.

AU - Lynch, M.

AU - Ord, S. M.

AU - Waterson, M.

AU - Barnes, D. G.

AU - Bell, M.

AU - Gaensler, B. M.

AU - Lenc, E.

AU - Bernardi, G.

AU - Greenhill, L. J.

AU - Kasper, J. C.

AU - Bowman, Judd

AU - Jacobs, Daniel

AU - Bunton, J. D.

AU - Desouza, L.

AU - Koenig, R.

AU - Pathikulangara, J.

AU - Stevens, J.

AU - Cappallo, R. J.

AU - Corey, B. E.

AU - Kincaid, B. B.

AU - Kratzenberg, E.

AU - Lonsdale, C. J.

AU - McWhirter, S. R.

AU - Rogers, A. E E

AU - Salah, J. E.

AU - Whitney, A. R.

AU - Deshpande, A.

AU - Prabu, T.

AU - Udaya Shankar, N.

AU - Srivani, K. S.

AU - Subrahmanyan, R.

AU - Ewall-Wice, A.

AU - Feng, L.

AU - Goeke, R.

AU - Morgan, E.

AU - Remillard, R. A.

AU - Williams, C. L.

AU - Hazelton, B. J.

AU - Morales, M. F.

AU - Johnston-Hollitt, M.

AU - Mitchell, D. A.

AU - Procopio, P.

AU - Riding, J.

AU - Webster, R. L.

AU - Wyithe, J. S B

AU - Oberoi, D.

AU - Roshi, A.

AU - Sault, R. J.

AU - Williams, A.

PY - 2013/10

Y1 - 2013/10

N2 - The Murchison Widefield Array (MWA) is a new low-frequency interferometric radio telescope, operating in the benign radio frequency environment of remote Western Australia. The MWA is the low-frequency precursor to the Square Kilometre Array (SKA) and is the first of three SKA precursors to be operational, supporting a varied science mission ranging from the attempted detection of the Epoch of Reionization to the monitoring of solar flares and space weather. In this paper we explore the possibility that the MWA can be used for the purposes of Space Situational Awareness (SSA). In particular we propose that the MWA can be used as an element of a passive radar facility operating in the frequency range 87.5-108 MHz (the commercial FM broadcast band). In this scenario the MWA can be considered the receiving element in a bi-static radar configuration, with FM broadcast stations serving as non-cooperative transmitters. The FM broadcasts propagate into space, are reflected off debris in Earth orbit, and are received at the MWA. The imaging capabilities of the MWA can be used to simultaneously detect multiple pieces of space debris, image their positions on the sky as a function of time, and provide tracking data that can be used to determine orbital parameters. Such a capability would be a valuable addition to Australian and global SSA assets, in terms of southern and eastern hemispheric coverage. We provide a feasibility assessment of this proposal, based on simple calculations and electromagnetic simulations, that shows that the detection of sub-meter size debris should be possible (debris radius of >0.5 m to ∼1000 km altitude). We also present a proof-of-concept set of observations that demonstrate the feasibility of the proposal, based on the detection and tracking of the International Space Station via reflected FM broadcast signals originating in southwest Western Australia. These observations broadly validate our calculations and simulations. We discuss some significant challenges that need to be addressed in order to turn the feasible concept into a robust operational capability for SSA. The aggregate received power due to reflections off space debris in the FM band is equivalent to a <1 mJy increase in the background confusion noise for the long integrations needed for Epoch of Reionization experiments, which is insignificant.

AB - The Murchison Widefield Array (MWA) is a new low-frequency interferometric radio telescope, operating in the benign radio frequency environment of remote Western Australia. The MWA is the low-frequency precursor to the Square Kilometre Array (SKA) and is the first of three SKA precursors to be operational, supporting a varied science mission ranging from the attempted detection of the Epoch of Reionization to the monitoring of solar flares and space weather. In this paper we explore the possibility that the MWA can be used for the purposes of Space Situational Awareness (SSA). In particular we propose that the MWA can be used as an element of a passive radar facility operating in the frequency range 87.5-108 MHz (the commercial FM broadcast band). In this scenario the MWA can be considered the receiving element in a bi-static radar configuration, with FM broadcast stations serving as non-cooperative transmitters. The FM broadcasts propagate into space, are reflected off debris in Earth orbit, and are received at the MWA. The imaging capabilities of the MWA can be used to simultaneously detect multiple pieces of space debris, image their positions on the sky as a function of time, and provide tracking data that can be used to determine orbital parameters. Such a capability would be a valuable addition to Australian and global SSA assets, in terms of southern and eastern hemispheric coverage. We provide a feasibility assessment of this proposal, based on simple calculations and electromagnetic simulations, that shows that the detection of sub-meter size debris should be possible (debris radius of >0.5 m to ∼1000 km altitude). We also present a proof-of-concept set of observations that demonstrate the feasibility of the proposal, based on the detection and tracking of the International Space Station via reflected FM broadcast signals originating in southwest Western Australia. These observations broadly validate our calculations and simulations. We discuss some significant challenges that need to be addressed in order to turn the feasible concept into a robust operational capability for SSA. The aggregate received power due to reflections off space debris in the FM band is equivalent to a <1 mJy increase in the background confusion noise for the long integrations needed for Epoch of Reionization experiments, which is insignificant.

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KW - instrumentation: interferometers

KW - planets and satellites: general

KW - planets and satellites: individual (International Space Station)

KW - techniques: radar astronomy

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