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Capabilities of Ground-Based Radar Systems for Observations of Near-Earth Objects

Presentation #405.13 in the session Asteroids: Planetary Defense (Poster + Lightning Talk)

Published onOct 23, 2023
Capabilities of Ground-Based Radar Systems for Observations of Near-Earth Objects

Ground-based radar systems have unique capabilities for physical and dynamical characterization of near-Earth objects. Building upon the work of Naidu et al. (2016, Astronomical Journal 152, 99), Roshi et al. (2021, arXiv:2103.01367), Venditti et al. (2023, Acta Astronautica 210, 610), and Marshall et al. (2023, ACM, #2563), we investigate how many near-Earth asteroids (NEAs) and potentially hazardous asteroids (PHAs) could be detected (per year) with past, present, and potential future planetary radar systems. We consider radar transmissions from Arecibo Observatory, Goldstone Deep Space Communications Complex, Canberra Deep Space Communication Complex, and some radar facility concepts that have been proposed for the future. We calculate all known NEAs’ positions over a one-year period, using the database of NEA orbital elements from the Minor Planet Center (MPC). For each NEA and each radar facility, we calculate the NEA’s signal-to-noise ratio (SNR) for hypothetical radar observations, during the dates at which the NEA would appear within the facility’s range of observable declinations. The MPC database lists every known NEA’s orbital elements and absolute magnitude. For radar SNR calculations, we convert that absolute magnitude to a radar cross section and bandwidth using scaling relations based on the Arecibo radar targets reported in Virkki et al. 2022 (Planetary Science Journal 3, 222). On a given date, we define an NEA to be detectable if its SNR after 30 minutes of observations would be at least 5. However, some potential detections (theoretically with sufficient SNR) had to be filtered out. In many cases, an NEA was only observed for a few days or a few weeks, at the time of its discovery. Without additional observations during later apparitions, such NEAs are effectively lost. We also had to filter out objects that were only close enough to be detectable (by radar) before they were actually discovered. We will present an analysis of the sizes, distances, and estimated SNR of the NEAs that are potentially detectable from each radar facility.

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