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Fraunhofer launches space radar and satellite technologies for avoiding orbital debris

27 April 2018

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Innovations will help reduce the cost of going into space, and will protect orbiting assets from collisions.

Announced at the Berlin Air Show, the GESTRA and TIRA surveillance radar systems respectively scan large areas of space to detect objects and debris in low earth orbit, and produce detailed images of individual objects and measure their trajectories.

The two radar systems are part of a suite of technologies unveiled at the airshow. These are intended to counter the growing problem of "space junk": defunct satellites, fragments of discarded launch equipment such as fairings and launch stages, and fragments of micro-meteorites that orbit in a cloud around the earth at an altitude of around 3000km. There is now so much debris in these orbits that there is a risk of a chain collision; two objects collide and break apart, and then their fragments cause further collisions and so on. Satellites must now be fitted with equipment to deorbit them at the end of their life, and a mission will soon begin from the International Space Station to test technologies to capture and destroy items of debris, but finding ways to avoid the rubbish is also a priority for many in the space industry.

Source: The Engineer

Image credit: Fraunhofer - The ERNST satellite is designed to be used as part of a constellation.