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Orbital Debris Radar Measurements from the Haystack Ultra-Wideband Satellite Imaging Radar (HUSIR): 2014-2017

  • Matney, Mark
  • Miller, Rossina
  • Murray, James
  • Kennedy, Timothy
Publication Date
Dec 09, 2019
NASA Technical Reports Server


For many years, the NASA Orbital Debris Program Office (ODPO) has partnered with the U.S. Department of Defense and the Massachusetts Institute of Technology Lincoln Laboratory (MIT/LL) to collect data on the orbital debris environment using the Haystack radar. These measurements are used to characterize the small debris environment in low Earth orbit (LEO), down to a noise-limited size of approximately 5 mmdepending on altitude. The Haystack radar operated by MIT Lincoln Lab underwent upgrades starting in May 2010, with operations resuming in 2014 as the Haystack Ultra-wideband Satellite Imaging Radar (HUSIR). Hence, the data collected beginning in 2014 represents the first dataset available from this upgraded sensor. HUSIR is the primary source of data used by the ODPO to statistically sample orbital debris in the 5-mm to 10-cm size regime in LEO and is a key source of data to build and validate the NASA Orbital Debris Engineering Model. In this paper, we will present recent results from measurements performed during the US Government fiscal years 2014 2017. Using the NASA Size Estimation Model, a method based on laboratory radar measurements of debris, we will compare the size distributions of selected orbital debris populations over this 4-year period and flux measurements of orbital debris greater than 1 cm.

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