Stabroth, S: Dust Particle Impacts due to Re-entry Firings o

STABROTH, Sebastian Taal: Engels


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The scope of this work is the improvement of space debris model predictions for the small particle regime. The focus is on orbital solid rocket motor (SRM) firings that lead to the generation of very small dust particles during the combustion process. A debris model validation is performed against particle impact measurements gathered by spacecraft surfaces and dust detector missions in the time frame between 1984 and 2005. The impact data is compared to predictions of the MASTER-2005 (Meteoroid and Space Debris Terrestrial Environment Reference) model. While the model is in overall agreement for the time frame after 1990, it underestimates the impact risk by one order of magnitude for the low Earth orbit environment between 1984 and 1990. The reason for this deviation is found to be in a large number of SRM re-entry firings not included in the MASTER database. The retro-burns belong to spacecraft capsules used in the Russian photo reconnaissance satellite program. Within this work, a list of event parameters including 844 firings is calculated using historical space surveillance data. It is shown by simulation that the firings result in an ejection of combustion remnants orbiting the Earth in highly eccentric orbits for some days to months before re-entering the atmosphere. Possible impacts of the released objects onto target detector surfaces are furthermore analysed. A dedicated software tool is developed for that purpose. Within this dissertation, an explanation for actual impact signatures measured by the Interplanetary Dust Experiment (IDE) in 1984 and 1985 with simulated remnants of the retro-burns is found. In addition, one of the most prominent IDE measurements (in the literature referred to as the 'May swarm') could be correlated to SRM firings performed by two U.S. satellites. The findings underline the quality of the event database gathered within this work. The consideration of the updated event parameters in MASTER reduces the observed model deviation significantly. The software environment established in this dissertation adds a new capability to the developer branch of the MASTER model. It is now possible to analyse the effects of single debris-producing events to the small particle population. This capability is essential for a steady improvement and update of the model as it allows for a more direct validation of the underlying model parameters.
Van Ditmar Boekenimport B.V.
138 pp.
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