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Modelling the near-Earth space environment using LDEF dataNear-Earth space is a dynamic environment, that is currently not well understood. In an effort to better characterize the near-Earth space environment, this study compares the results of actual impact crater measurement data and the Space Environment (SPENV) Program developed in-house at POD, to theoretical models established by Kessler (NASA TM-100471, 1987) and Cour-Palais (NASA SP-8013, 1969). With the continuing escalation of debris there will exist a definite hazard to unmanned satellites as well as manned operations. Since the smaller non-trackable debris has the highest impact rate, it is clearly necessary to establish the true debris environment for all particle sizes. Proper comprehension of the near-Earth space environment and its origin will permit improvement in spacecraft design and mission planning, thereby reducing potential disasters and extreme costs. Results of this study directly relate to the survivability of future spacecraft and satellites that are to travel through and/or reside in low Earth orbit (LEO). More specifically, these data are being used to: (1) characterize the effects of the LEO micrometeoroid an debris environment on satellite designs and components; (2) update the current theoretical micrometeoroid and debris models for LEO; (3) help assess the survivability of spacecraft and satellites that must travel through or reside in LEO, and the probability of their collision with already resident debris; and (4) help define and evaluate future debris mitigation and disposal methods. Combined model predictions match relatively well with the LDEF data for impact craters larger than approximately 0.05 cm, diameter; however, for smaller impact craters, the combined predictions diverge and do not reflect the sporadic clouds identified by the Interplanetary Dust Experiment (IDE) aboard LDEF. The divergences cannot currently be explained by the authors or model developers. The mean flux of small craters (approximately 0.05 cm diameter) is overpredicted by Kessler and underpredicted by Cour-Palais. This divergence may be a result of beta-meteoroid fluxes, elliptical orbits or a combination of the two. The results of this study illustrate the definite need for more intensive study of the near-Earth space environment, particularly the small particle regime, as it is the most degrading to spacecraft in LEO.
Document ID
Document Type
Conference Paper
Atkinson, Dale R.
(POD Associates, Inc. Albuquerque, NM, United States)
Coombs, Cassandra R.
(POD Associates, Inc. Albuquerque, NM, United States)
Crowell, Lawrence B.
(POD Associates, Inc. Albuquerque, NM, United States)
Watts, Alan J.
(POD Associates, Inc. Albuquerque, NM, United States)
Date Acquired
September 6, 2013
Publication Date
June 1, 1992
Publication Information
Publication: NASA. Langley Research Center, Second LDEF Post-Retrieval Symposium Abstracts
Subject Category
Distribution Limits
Work of the US Gov. Public Use Permitted.

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IDRelationTitle19920017975Analytic PrimarySecond LDEF Post-Retrieval Symposium Abstracts
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