The population of objects in orbit around Earth has grown since the late 1950s. Today there are over 21,000 objects over 10 cm in length in orbit, and an estimated 500,000 more between 1 and 10 cm. Only a small fraction of these objects are operational satellites. The rest are debris: old derelict spacecraft or rocket bodies, fragments created as the result of explosions or collisions, discarded objects, slag from solid rockets, or even flaked off paint. Traveling at up to 7 km/s, a collision with even a 1 cm piece of debris could severely damage or destroy a satellite. This dissertation examines three aspects of orbital debris. First, the concept of a self-consuming satellite is explored. This nanosatellite would use its own external structure as propellant to execute a deorbit maneuver at the end of its operational life, thus allowing it to meet current debris mitigation standards. Results from lab experiments examining potential materials for this concept have shown favorable results. Second, Particle in Cell techniques are modified and used to model the plasma plume from a micro-cathode arc thruster. This model is then applied to the concept of an ion beam shepherd satellite. This satellite would use its plasma plume to deorbit another derelict satellite. Results from these simulations indicate the micro-cathode arc thruster could potentially deorbit a derelict CubeSat in a matter of a few weeks. Finally, the orbital debris population at geosynchronous orbit is examined, focusing on variations in the density of the population as a function of longitude. New insights are revealed demonstrating that the variation in population density is slightly less than previously reported.
|Commitee:||Brieda, Lubos, Lee, Taeyoung, Pentrin, Allen, Shashurin, Alexey|
|School:||The George Washington University|
|Department:||Mechanical and Aerospace Engineering|
|School Location:||United States -- District of Columbia|
|Source:||DAI-B 77/06(E), Dissertation Abstracts International|
|Keywords:||Electric propulsion, Geosynchronous orbit, Micro-propulsion, Orbital debris|
Copyright in each Dissertation and Thesis is retained by the author. All Rights Reserved
The supplemental file or files you are about to download were provided to ProQuest by the author as part of a
dissertation or thesis. The supplemental files are provided "AS IS" without warranty. ProQuest is not responsible for the
content, format or impact on the supplemental file(s) on our system. in some cases, the file type may be unknown or
may be a .exe file. We recommend caution as you open such files.
Copyright of the original materials contained in the supplemental file is retained by the author and your access to the
supplemental files is subject to the ProQuest Terms and Conditions of use.
Depending on the size of the file(s) you are downloading, the system may take some time to download them. Please be