Mie region radar cross-section of high-speed and rotational space debris

Justin K.A. Henry, Ram M. Narayanan, Puneet Singla, Erik P. Blasch

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingConference contribution

1 Scopus citations


Space domain awareness (SDA) has become increasingly important as industry and society seek further interest in occupying space for surveillance, communication, and environmental services. To maintain the safe launch and orbit-placement of future satellites, there is a need to reliably track the positions and trajectories of discarded launch designs that are debris objects orbiting Earth. In particular, debris objects with sizes on the order of 20 cm or smaller travelling at high speeds maintain enough energy to pierce and permanently damage current, functional satellites. The paper presents a theoretical analysis of modeling the radar returns of space debris as simulated signatures for comparison to real measurements. For radar modeling, when the incident radiation wavelength is comparable to the radius of the debris object, Mie scattering is dominant. Mie scattering describes situations where the radiation scatter propagates predominantly, i.e., contains the greatest power density, along the same direction as the incident wave. Mie scatter modeling is especially useful when tracking objects with forward scatter bistatic radar, as the transmitter, target, and receiver lie along the same geometrical trajectory. This paper provides a baseline method towards modeling space debris radar signatures or radar cross-sections (RCS) in relation to the velocity and rotational motions of space debris. The results show the impact of the debris radii varying from 20 cm down to 1 cm as from radiation of comparable wavelength. The resulting scattering nominal mathematical relationships determine how debris size and motion affects the radar signature. It is shown that RCS is proportional to linear size, and that the Doppler shift is predominantly influenced by translation motion.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Title of host publicationSensors and Systems for Space Applications XV
EditorsGenshe Chen, Khanh D. Pham
ISBN (Electronic)9781510651180
StatePublished - 2022
EventSensors and Systems for Space Applications XV 2022 - Virtual, Online
Duration: Jun 6 2022Jun 12 2022

Publication series

NameProceedings of SPIE - The International Society for Optical Engineering
ISSN (Print)0277-786X
ISSN (Electronic)1996-756X


ConferenceSensors and Systems for Space Applications XV 2022
CityVirtual, Online

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Electronic, Optical and Magnetic Materials
  • Condensed Matter Physics
  • Computer Science Applications
  • Applied Mathematics
  • Electrical and Electronic Engineering


Dive into the research topics of 'Mie region radar cross-section of high-speed and rotational space debris'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this