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Collision Frequency of Artificial Satellites' The Creation of a Debris BeltAs the number of artificial satellites in earth orbit increases, the probability of collisions between satellites also increases. Satellite collisions would produce orbiting fragments, each of which would increase the probability of further collisions, leading to the growth of a belt of debris around the earth. This process parallels certain theories concerning the growth of the asteroid belt. The debris flux in such an earth-orbiting belt could exceed the natural meteoroid flux, affecting future spacecraft designs. A mathematical model was used to predict the rate at which such a belt might form. Under certain conditions the belt could begin to form within this century and could be a significant problem during the next century. The possibility that numerous unobserved fragments already exist from spacecraft explosions would decrease this time interval. However, early implementation of specialized launch constraints and operational procedures could significantly delay the formation of the belt.
Document ID
Acquisition Source
Johnson Space Center
Document Type
Reprint (Version printed in journal)
Donald J Kessler
(Johnson Space Center Houston, Texas, United States)
Burton G Cour-Palais
(Johnson Space Center Houston, Texas, United States)
Date Acquired
August 9, 2013
Publication Date
June 1, 1978
Publication Information
Publication: Journal of Geophysical Research: Space Physics
Publisher: American Geophysical Union
Volume: 83
Issue: A6
Issue Publication Date: June 1, 1978
e-ISSN: 2169-9402
Subject Category
Astronautics (General)
Accession Number
Distribution Limits
Work of the US Gov. Public Use Permitted.

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