Spacecraft for High Accuracy Radar Calibration (SHARC) - 03.15.17

Overview | Description | Applications | Operations | Results | Publications | Imagery

ISS Science for Everyone

Science Objectives for Everyone
The Spacecraft for High Accuracy Radar Calibration (SHARC) CubeSats collect detailed positional measurements from space and help ground based radar networks improve tracking by conducting a series of coordinated fly-bys of military radar stations.
Science Results for Everyone
Information Pending

The following content was provided by David Voss, Ph.D., and is maintained in a database by the ISS Program Science Office.
Experiment Details


Principal Investigator(s)
David Voss, Ph.D., Kirtland AFB, Kirtland AFB, NM, United States

Information Pending

Air Force Research Laboratory (Kirtland AFB), Albuquerque, NM, United States

Sponsoring Space Agency
National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA)

Sponsoring Organization
National Laboratory (NL)

Research Benefits
Scientific Discovery, Space Exploration

ISS Expedition Duration
September 2016 - April 2017

Expeditions Assigned

Previous Missions
Information Pending

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Experiment Description

Research Overview

  • Spacecraft for High Accuracy Radar Calibration (SHARC) demonstrates the capability to perform critical capability of over 120 Tri-Service C-band radars. Calibration is critical to meet tracking requirements of orbital objects.
  • SHARC demonstrates low latency delivery of data (minutes vs. days).
  • SHARC demonstrates commercial communication data link.
  • SHARC demonstrates functionality of critical avionics subsystems in low-Earth Orbit (LEO) to reduce risk for future geostationary Earth orbit (GEO) missions.
  • SHARC demonstrates advanced GPS capabilities, including time measurements as fast as approximately 1ns as opposed to the baseline of approximately 20ns.

The Spacecraft for High Accuracy Radar Calibration (SHARC) Mission aims to provide an example acquisition strategy for the 30th SW and Radar Performance Monitoring (RPM) community to maintain United States Air Force (USAF) operational requirements. This is done by demonstrating a small satellite platform providing calibration data for pedestal offsets for C-Band radar ground stations. As the spacecraft passes over a given radar station, pedestal data is gathered at the ground sight and compared with spacecraft ephemerides to determine bias in the ground system. Doing so with an orbital asset also serves to reduce costs by comparison to ground based calibration efforts using both static and dynamic calibration sources.

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Space Applications
The SHARC 6U CubeSat supports the space program by contributing to the calibration of Department of Defense (DoD) tri-service C-band radar installations, critical to the space situational awareness capabilities of the DoD. SHARC is also a technology demonstration mission for multiple other guidance, navigation, and control (GNC) capabilities including demonstrating the use of high-performance attitude determination and control systems (ADCS) and GPS systems. SHARC will also further the development of many small satellite avionics subsystems by functionally demonstrating and testing their performance on orbit.

Earth Applications
SHARC demonstrates how CubeSats test and scale up technologies for long-term. By deploying next generation communication and avionics systems in low-Earth orbit, SHARC prepares these technology upgrades for broader orbital ranges and more complex space tasks.

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Operational Requirements and Protocols
The SHARC space vehicle gathers GPS ephemerides while passing within line-of-sight for a 30th SW Radar tracking site and once down linked are used with ground station pedestal tracking data for comparison to determine bias in the ground tracking site. This operations profile is conducted with at first a single C-Band radar site at Vandenberg AFB, CA before being opened up to additional radar tracking sites.

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Decadal Survey Recommendations

Information Pending

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Results/More Information

Information Pending

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Related Websites
Air Force Research Laboratory

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