The space surveillance radar GESTRA (German Experimental Space Surveillance and Tracking Radar) developed by Fraunhofer FHR on behalf of the German Space Agency at DLR is delivering promising results. As part of a series of measurements, several experiments were conducted with the system operated by the German Armed Forces Space Situational Awareness Center (WRLageZ) at the GESTRA site on Schmidtenhöhe in Koblenz.
The GESTRA space surveillance radar, which is in test operation, is currently being prepared for operational use. Recent measurements of near-Earth space showed promising results. The goal of reliable detection of various objects in space was achieved in all experimental measurements. All objects specified for detection, such as retired satellites, rocket end stages or other space debris, were measured as expected and verified by comparing doppler speed and range in the real space catalogue. Performance parameters such as the signal-to-noise ratio were also determined. The results obtained were within the mathematically expected range.
But GESTRA even delivered results beyond this. Other objects located in the observed space region were also detected by the GESTRA radar and identified with the help of the WRLageZ. These "chance discoveries" are an important feature of space surveillance radars and underline once again the importance of GESTRA for more safety in orbit. After the success of the first series of measurements, further measurements are planned in which even more system features of the GESTRA radar will be included.