Orbital Dynamics of Lightweight Flexible Debris

Channumsin, C., Ceriotti, M. , Früh, C. and Radice, G. (2013) Orbital Dynamics of Lightweight Flexible Debris. In: 64th International Astronautical Congress (IAC), Beijing, China, 23-27 Sep 2013,

89941.pdf - Accepted Version


Publisher's URL: http://www.iac2013.org/dct/page/1


An unexpected space debris population was recently identified as being very high area-to-mass ratio (HAMR) debris in geostationary orbit (GEO). Scientists hypothesised about their origins, consensus is that these objects are multi-layer insulation (MLI), separated from the spacecraft due to fragmentation events or delamination. These objects, like any other debris, pose a collision hazard for active satellites. Debris are usually considered rigid bodies; this assumption, however, is not fully justified for the MLI, as it lacks almost any structural strength. Large sheets of MLI are very flexible, and the change in geometry due to their flexibility can affect the effective area-to-mass ratio (AMR). This will cause varying effects due to external or internal forces and moments such as solar radiation pressure SRP, atmospheric drag, electromagnetic fields, or centrifugal and Coriolis forces. This, in turn, will affect the evolution of the orbital parameters, in a way that is difficult to predict. This paper introduces a simplified but effective model to represent the deformation of such debris, subject in particular to torques caused by solar radiation pressure and the Earth gravitational field, by means of Finite Element Method (FEM). This model adds a further set of dynamical equations, which accounts for the flexibility of the object, into the attitude and orbital equations; the resulting system is then numerically integrated to better evaluate the coupling between orbital and attitude dynamics. Due to a more precise estimation and prediction of the actual shape and orientation of the debris at any given time, than by simply assuming the case of a rigid body, the effects of the perturbations on the orbit can be computed more precisely, leading to improvements for the long-term prediction, over 150 days, of the orbital evolution. Results show that for debris in GEO the eccentricity change for flexible debris is different than for equivalent rigid bodies, and their attitude motions are unique.

Item Type:Conference Proceedings
Additional Information:ISSN: 1995-6258
Glasgow Author(s) Enlighten ID:Radice, Dr Gianmarco and Ceriotti, Dr Matteo
Authors: Channumsin, C., Ceriotti, M., Früh, C., and Radice, G.
College/School:College of Science and Engineering > School of Engineering > Autonomous Systems and Connectivity
College of Science and Engineering > School of Engineering > Systems Power and Energy
Copyright Holders:Copyright © 2013 The Authors
Publisher Policy:Reproduced in accordance with the copyright policy of the publisher

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