Istituto di Scienza e Tecnologie dell'Informazione     
Rossi A., Anselmo L., Pardini C., Valsecchi G. B. Final Report - Upgrade of the semi-deterministic model to study the long term evolution of the space debris. Final Report ESA/ESOC Contract No. 15857/01/D/HK(SC) (2004). Document n. /cnr.isti/2004-B5-19, 2004.
The space debris long-term analysis program SDM was developed in the early 90's to study the long-term evolution of orbital debris and to evaluate the effectiveness of mitigation measures. SDM was now upgraded to Version 3.0 including several new features and models for the sources and sinks mechanisms: 1) a very accurate propagator including all the relevant gravitational and non gravitational perturbations was added to the existing DCP propagator; 2) a model for the production of Solid Rocket Motor (SRM) slag was added; 3) the new NASA EVOLVE 4 breakup model to simulate the generation of debris clouds produced by on-orbit explosions and collisions was added; 4) a breakup model for low-velocity collisions was added; 5) a set of advanced mitigation options for LEO, MEO and GEO were added to allow the simulation of a number of complex scenarios in the different orbital regimes; 6) both the pre-processing and the post-processing sections of the code were completely revised and updated. Then the long-term evolution of the space debris population with mass larger than 1 mg, from LEO up to 40 000 km of altitude, was studied with the upgraded SDM 3.0 model. The purpose of the study was to test the updated software and to analyse the effect of a series of mitigation measures recently proposed, and partly also applied, at international level and to test the sensitivity of the evolution to different models implemented in SDM. First a new, up-to-date Business As Usual scenario was outlined, taking into account the changing features of the recent space activities and the most probable future traffic trends. Building on this default scenario, the effectiveness of several mitigation measures was tested, in different orbital regimes. Below 2000 km the envisaged EOL mitigation measures (including passivation and re-orbiting or de-orbiting with different residual lifetimes) obtain the important result of stabilising, and then progressively reducing, the number of objects larger than 10 cm in orbit. Even a residual spacecraft lifetime of 75 years in LEO is able to reach this important goal, averting the long-term onset of an exponential growth, but of course there is a temporal delay and a correspondingly higher maximum population with respect to the other three scenarios. The sensitivity of the results to the adoption of the new NASA EVOLVE 4 breakup models was then discussed. It was found that, with the adoption of this last breakup model, the population of objects larger than 10 cm in LEO keeps growing, though slowly, even in the mitigated scenarios. Therefore, if it will turn out that the new NASA breakup models are better to simulate future explosions and collisions, the proposed mitigation scenarios are not able to stabilise the population of debris larger than 10 cm in LEO.
Subject Space Debris
J.2 Physical sciences and engineering

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