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Space object attitude stability determined from radar cross-section statistics

We present a new method for estimating the attitude stability of low-Earth resident space objects (RSOs) using radar cross-section (RCS) statistics from LeoLabs’ global radar network. Assuming a non-isotropic shape, an Earth-oriented RSO will have an elevation-angle dependent RCS when viewed from a ground-based radar. We thus test RSO attitude stability by looking for a difference in median RCS when the satellite is viewed at different elevation angles. We demonstrate this technique using data from LeoLabs’ Midland Space Radar. This has applications for interpreting RSO stability, and its outputs can be used for advanced object and mission classification.

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Space object attitude stability whitepaper