The Oculus Observatory in South Australia uses passive radar to monitor space objects

The Oculus Observatory in South Australia uses passive radar to monitor space objects

The Oculus Observatory in South Australia, which opened on December 9, is home to the first of a proposed global network of the passive radars for tracking objects in orbit. The Oculus Observatory, which is located close to The River Murray Dark Sky Reserve, is meant to house several, complimentary space surveillance sensors, according to James Palmer, Chief Executive Officer of Silentium Defence, which planned, built, and administers the Oculus Observatory.

“Unlike typical space surveillance technologies, which only offer a narrow view of objects and debris in orbit,” Palmer stated in a statement. “The sensors at the observatory provide coverage of a region the size of South Australia.” “For clients, this means we’ll detect and track both expected and unknown items in space, such as satellites and documented debris, as well as undiscovered and new objects that could pose a hazard to key services or assets.”

The Oculus Observatory received roughly $1.07 million (1.5 million Australian dollars) from the Australian government’s International Space Investment Initiative, which funds programs aimed at strengthening international space agency cooperation. Silentium Defence’s Maverick S-series passive radar is the Oculus Observatory’s initial sensor. The Maverick S-series uses power from the terrestrial FM radio transmitters plus energy reflected from the space objects to pinpoint their location instead than broadcasting electromagnetic waves.

Palmer told SpaceNews, “To our knowledge, we are the only commercial sellers of passive radar for space situational awareness.” “We can supply the same type of data that the active radar can.” We’re referring to angular data, as well as velocity and range. We can derive orbital elements of the resident space objects using that information.”

Silentium Defence plans to set up a distributed network comprising dozens of the passive sensors to track down objects in space. Because passive sensors do not require spectrum licensing, this form of the network may be created and commissioned quickly, according to Palmer. In the meantime, Silentium Defence is attempting to entice additional sensors to Oculus Observatory.

“What the Maverick S-series is doing is updating the inventory, persistent detection, and monitoring of objects in the low Earth orbit,” Palmer explained. “However, we also know that there are also complementary sensors which can provide further information on space situational awareness.” “We are witnessing a significant rise in the number of items which are going up into the orbit,” Palmer said, “therefore space situational awareness is much more critical than ever.” “In order to support people in making judgments about how we can prevent collisions in the future,” Palmer noted, “we need to have the most recent knowledge about what the things are doing.”

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