Istituto di Scienza e Tecnologie dell'Informazione     
Rossi A. Population models of space debris. In: IAU Colloquium (Belgrade, Serbia and Montenegro, August 31 - September 4, 2004). Proceedings, vol. 2004 pp. 427 - 437. Z. Knezevic and A. Milani (eds.). Cambridge University Press, 2005.
More than 300000 artificial debris particles with diameter larger than 1 cm are orbiting the Earth. The space debris population is similar to the asteroid belt, since it is subject to a process of high-velocity mutual collisions that affects the long-term evolution of its size distribution. The near--Earth space can be divided in three major regions where orbital debris is of concern: Low Earth Orbits (LEOs), below about 2000 km, Geosynchronous Orbits (GEOs), at an altitude of about 36000 km and the Medium Earth Orbits (MEOs) in between. The issues are in principle the same in the three regions, nevertheless they require different approaches and solutions. The space debris are composed by several different populations according to their source and their orbital region. A description of the nature and dynamics of the different populations in the low, medium and high orbital regimes is given. The impact risk posed by these debris is then briefly outlined. The long term evolution of the whole debris population can be studied with computer models allowing the simulation of all the known source and sinks mechanisms. One of these codes is described and the evolution of the debris environment, over the next 100 years, under different traffic scenarios is shown, pointing out the possible measures to mitigate the growth of the orbital debris population.
Subject Space Debris
J.2 Physical Sciences and Engineering

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