GMV makes headway in groundbreaking passive satellite tracking techniques

In the second half of 2020 GMV carried out a project for the Spanish Industrial Technology Development Center (Centro para el Desarrollo Tecnológico Industrial: CDTI). The idea of the project was to analyze passive satellite tracking techniques to gauge their applicability to GEO space surveillance and tracking systems and especially the Spanish Space Surveillance and Tracking System (S3T) under the umbrella of the European Space Surveillance and Tracking System (EUSST).

This technique means that satellites emitting an active communication signal can now be tracked. This active signal is simultaneously received by a suitably deployed network of receiving antenna, making it possible to determine with great precision and in near real time the emitting satellite’s orbit while also detecting and estimating its maneuvers.


Under this EUSST-consortium H2020-funded project, GMV has carried out a feasibility study for CDTI and has specified and designed this system for providing S3T with data to enhance the in-orbit collision avoidance services currently rendered by S3T’s Operating Center (S3TOC) for dozens of European operators and several hundred satellites. GMV has also developed for CDTI a prototype that simulates the whole system and its data-processing chain.

Due to the interest of this technique for space surveillance applications, in which GMV is European leader, and to keep this activity going into the future, GMV initiated in 2021 the development of an inhouse passive satellite tracking system called Focusear. Focusear will provide data and services not only for space surveillance systems but also to support orbit determination activities. The first tests of this system are now being conducted on GMV’s Tres Cantos site in Madrid. Additional antennae will be deployed in other GMV offices in Spain (Seville, Valladolid and Barcelona) to provide an operational service.


This project has received funding from the European Union’s innovation and research program H2020 under the contract GA nº 785257