Collision rates and impact velocities for bodies in low earth orbit
Abstract
Mutual collision probabilities and impact velocities for a set of 2700 earthorbiting objects with perigee heights less than 1600 km, whose orbital elements are listed in the December 1988 Satellite Situation Report, have been computed using Wetherill's algorithm. This has been achieved by using a program developed by Farinella and Davis (1992) to study asteroid collisions on the nCUBE 2 multicomputer. The average and standard deviation of the intrinsic collision probability P(i) is 1.104 +/ 0.812 x 10 exp 9/sq m/yr; the corresponding value of the impact velocity V is 9.65 +/ 0.88 km/s. This means that a loworbiting Space Station within a crosssectional area of 50 sq m has an average collision rate of 0.09 percent per yr with the approximately 50,000 orbiting objects larger than 1 cm, which are probably capable of causing catastrophic damage to the station. The intrinsic collision probability is higher than average at altitudes at which the debris population has maximum density, implying that in these regions the danger of a runaway proliferation of debris due to mutual collisions is most acute. High collision rates also occur near the inclinations at which many existing orbits are clustered.
 Publication:

ESA Journal
 Pub Date:
 1992
 Bibcode:
 1992ESAJ...16..339R
 Keywords:

 Collision Rates;
 Earth Orbital Environments;
 Hypervelocity Impact;
 Space Debris;
 Flight Hazards;
 Mathematical Models;
 Orbital Elements;
 Astronautics (General)