Modelling the long term evolution of the space debris population
By Juan Carlos DOLADO-PEREZ
SINCE the launch of Sputnik-I in 1957, human activities in space have led to the production and release of thousands of objects of various sizes, from particles smaller than 1 mm to non-operational spacecraft measuring several square meters. While in the past the primary sources of space debris were accidental and intentional break-ups as well as the intentional release of debris, the growing amount of space debris makes the risk of collision among space objects increasingly likely.
The fear that future environment growth may be dominated by collisions, rather than by launches and explosions, was already expressed decades ago. In order to avoid such a situation, several responses outlining mitigation and remediation procedures have been, and continue to be, developed to limit the expected growth of the debris population.
Whilst mid-term and long-term projections of the Earth's satellite population rely on our ability to predict and model a series of exogenous and endogenous variables, many of which are completely out of the control of the modeler, this seminar will focus on the presentation of the main challenges and difficulties linked with the prediction of the long term evolution of the space debris population. Simulation results, preformed with MEDEE (Modelling the Evolution of Debris on the Earth's Environment) model, will help to illustrate the effect of modelling assumptions and uncertainties on the prediction of the long term evolution of the space debris population.