Introducing Costa Rica Space Radar

The Costa Rica Space Radar
The Costa Rica Space Radar inaugural ceremony with President Carlos Alvarado Quesada

The Power of S-Band Radars

The Costa Rica Space Radar is the second of LeoLabs’ advanced S-band radar systems, following the deployment of the Kiwi Space Radar in New Zealand in December 2019. Our S-band radars provide sensitivities to detect objects as small as a golf ball at an altitude of 1200km. However, a single S-band radar at one location on the Earth is not sufficient to accurately track and maintain custody of hundreds of thousands of such small objects; for this, a global network of S-band radars is required. The two radars, along with the future radars to be constructed by LeoLabs in the next two years, allow for such global coverage.

2D map and 3D visualization of the Costa Rica Space Radar Field of View (FOV) and the orbit of Hubble Space Telescope

X Marks the Spot

Each LeoLabs S-band radar system is actually two separate co-located one-dimensional radars working in unison. For the Kiwi Space Radar in New Zealand, the two radars are situated parallel to one another, but for the Costa Rica Space Radar, they are perpendicular. This creates a unique “X” shaped field of view, designed specifically for its near-equatorial location. With one system facing the North-East and the other facing the North-West, their right-angle geometry is optimized to ensure that objects in all orbital inclinations are captured frequently — from equatorial to polar orbits.

LeoLabs full LEO catalog visualization of 16,000 objects

More Radars, Better Services

Of course, the new radar tracks objects in all orbital inclinations (not just low-inclination), thereby improving revisit rates for all objects in our catalog. Our highest revisit rates for well-tracked objects in polar orbits are now near seven passes per day. The increase in the number of measurements will impact all our partners and customers as each of our services, such as tracking and monitoring, collision avoidance, or early launch tracking will leverage more accurate and frequent data.

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