|A hypervelocity collision.|
EISCAT has been active in space debris measurements for over 10 years, producing hundreds of hours of space debris measurements, covering two major break ups: the Chinese anti-satellite collision and the collision of the Iridium and Cosmos satellites.
Most of the measurements are so called beam-park measurements where the antenna is positioned at a fixed pointing. During a 24-hour period, while the Earth rotates around its axis, a representative statistical sample of debris is measured, containing information on orbital elements of the debris. The time of day provides information on the longitude of the ascending node, while the Doppler shift gives information on the inclination of the object. An example measurement produced after the collision of the Iridium and Cosmos satellites is shown in the figure below.
|EISCAT UHF beam park measurement of the Iridium-Cosmos collision|
debris clouds. Each point represents a detection of an object passing
the radar beam, the color represents radial Doppler shift. full sized version.
One of the potential uses of the planned EISCAT3D system is to track space objects and space debris. One of the advantages of a phased array system is the capability of observing a large volume of space simultaneously and making interferometric direction angle measurements. This will allow accurate trajectory measurements that can be used for collision avoidance with operational spacecraft, such as the International Space Station or Envisat.
For more information on EISCAT space debris activities can be obtained here.