Space debris charging and its effect on orbit evolution


With the increasing number of debris in the space environment surrounding Earth, it has become important to keep track of the orbits of these defunct objects so as to avoid collisions with active satellites, transiting spacecrafts or other important space assets. In this paper, attention has been paid to trajectory evolution of debris in low Earth orbit and geosynchronous orbit regions. One of the forces effecting the trajectory of a space debris is the Lorentz force, which acts when a charged body moves through the Earth's magnetosphere. Because of continuous bombardment of plasma particles, a space debris is often subject to charging. Correct modeling of Lorentz force requires correct modeling of magnetosphere and the body charge, which in turn depends on correct modeling of body currents, space-plasma environment and body capacitance. This research involves modeling of in-space charging for space debris, which are modeled as spherical conductors. Simulations incorporating Lorentz force as an additional perturbation force have been run to evaluate propagation of low area-to-mass ratio and high area-to-mass ratio objects.


Mechanical and Aerospace Engineering


Air Force Research Laboratory, Grant 107717

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Article - Conference proceedings

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Publication Date

01 Jan 2016