Re: Why optical sensors are not used along with radars for generating TLEs of LEO objects?

From: Charles Phillips via Seesat-l <seesat-l_at_satobs.org>
Date: Fri, 8 Sep 2017 16:49:25 -0600 (MDT)
John -

You asked:

"Why optical sensors are not used along with radars for generating TLEs of LEO objects? Best Regards"

And Brian Weeden gave a good answer - radars can follow fast moving objects very easily (we call it the slew rate in radars with dishes). Phased array radars can track very fast moving objects. 

I would also add that radars are great at searching for objects; when I worked at the radar at Clear Air Force Station (at the time) and we had a radar dish - it broadcast a very large cone of radiation and we could see lots of stuff in the beam. Then the radar operator would point the radar at the most likely object, that was probably the one we were looking for. From looking at the return you could tell a lot about the object - was it tumbling? Relative sizes, etc. 

Radars also give you more information than optical sensors - range, range rate, etc. Optical sensors just give you angles. Range also helps distinguish objects in the beam, you can tell which one is the object you are looking for. 

Charles Phillips
Spaceflight Research, LLC
Houston, Texas
713-882-4578
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Received on Fri Sep 08 2017 - 17:50:08 UTC

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