An agreement with the Ukrainian Mykolaiv Astronomical Observatory was established in September 2019 with the aim to promote collaboration in the field of natural and engineering science, data analysis, image processing. The activity undertaken was to install a receiving station for the ongoing project of observations of geostationary satellites with the aim to improve their orbit elements and to compile their catalogue.
This project was developed by the Mykolaiv Observatory and includes a number of observatories where antenna dishes point geostationary satellites and receive the same signals transmitted by the satellite under examination in order to determine, making use of the passive radar method, the time difference of arrival (TDOA). Such data together with the station coordinates are then used to calculate the orbital position of the satellite with the possibility to evaluate perturbation of it due to different factors. The network represents a scientific tool for possible additional space science experiments. A description and data can be found in the Mykaloiv Observatory web site at the experiment page.
The Funk Haus is based at the Pietramarina site on the Etna northern slopes at a height of 509 m. In this location was installed a receiving station and more parabolic dishes have been dedicated to the observations. A full equipment for receiving and recording the TDOA with respect to the 1PPS (Pulse Per Second synchronized with thee UT time) was installed, so to have the station data available for the further data process and analysis. Data from at the participating stations to the network are shared in order to allow independent collaborative data analysis and orbit determination.
The first observations at the Pietramarina site started in the end of February 2020 and are realized continuously each day since then. In May started the local activity to process the data and a number of tools have been developed. The goal is to evaluate the precision of such tools in comparison with the good established data analysis already under way since more years. When the Covid conditions will allow again the travels it would be proposed to have meeting in person to discuss about results and possible additional scientific goals.
In the pictures are visible the 1.85 m antenna installed for the observations (two smaller are also adopted) and the first fringes detected from the correlation in the three baselines Pietramarina - Mykolaiv, Pietramarina - Kharkiv, Mykolaiv - Kharkiv.