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Categories: 2018, Space Situational Awareness

Event Detection from RF Sensing

RF monitoring is currently underutilized in today’s Space Situational Awareness architectures. Providing RF situational awareness is critical to protecting C2 and mission data satellite links. According to Air Force Doctrine, SSA includes components of intelligence, surveillance, and reconnaissance (ISR), space environmental monitoring, and space warning functions.

Monitoring of the local RF environment near a ground station can aid in determining if the C2 links are being affected by unintentional or intentional interference. When interference is detected, analysis can characterize whether the signal is CW, broadband noise, or a modulated signal. By determining the type of interference, the ground system can avoid the contended frequency bands or switch to another ground system that is not affected thus providing resiliency in the ground enterprise. SATCOM monitoring with examples of interference detection attributed to piracy and jammers along with mitigation techniques will be presented.

With respect to supporting Space Situational Awareness, there are primarily two technologies used to observe and measure and characterize Resident Space Objects (RSOs); ground based radar and optical telescopes. RF can also be used to measure and characterize RSOs. RF sensing is largely underutilized; however, identification of an event from a passive RF collection system that is intentionally monitoring a commercial SATCOM transponder or other transmitting RSO is useful. By observing changes in the frequency characteristics from RF sensors, direction of maneuvers can be inferred. Finally, machine learning (ML) has often been applied to imagery and image recognition; the application of ML to RF signal identification and characterization from SATCOM collections will be introduced reducing the complexity, cost, and training necessary to effectively deploy passive RF monitoring in a comprehensive SSA strategy.

This abstract will cover at a high level, types of events and information that can be obtained on Resident Space Objects (RSO)s by observing their RF transmissions.

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Author: Matt Prechtel
Topic: Space Situational Awareness