Istituto di Scienza e Tecnologie dell'Informazione     
Pardini C., Anselmo L. Area-to to-mass distribution and long long-term evolution of the two debris clouds generated by the Cosmos 2251 - Iridium 33 collision. In: IADC meeting - 28th Inter-Agency Space Debris Coordination Committee (Trivandrum, INDIA, 9-12 Marzo 2010).
After two decades of slightly declining growth rate, thanks also to the advancing implementation of mitigation measures, the population of cataloged orbital debris around the Earth increased by approximately 40% in just a couple of years, from January 2007 to February 2009, due to two collisions in space involving the catastrophic destruction of three intact satellites (Fengyun 1C, Cosmos 2251 and Iridium 33) in high inclination orbits. This presentation investigates the long-term consequences on the orbital debris environment of the collision between Cosmos 2251 and Iridium 33. The physical characteristics of the two debris clouds generated, in terms of ballistic parameters and area-to-mass (A/M) distribution, were derived from a decay analysis of representative samples of cataloged objects. Such information was then used to realistically estimate the debris lifetime and the long-term contribution of the clouds to the circumterrestrial environment. As a consequence of the analysis carried out, it was also found that the clouds presented a significant fraction of cataloged fragments with very high area-to-mass ratios, hundreds or thousands of times greater than those of intact satellites, leading to the conclusion that the generation of such orbital debris might be more common than formerly supposed.
Subject Cosmos 2251 - Iridium 33 collision
Area-to-mass distribution
Debris cloud
J.2 Physical Sciences and Engineering
70M20 Orbital mechanics

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