Journal Article

Variation of the area-to-mass ratio of high area-to-mass ratio space debris objects

C. Früh and T. Schildknecht

in Monthly Notices of the Royal Astronomical Society

Published on behalf of The Royal Astronomical Society

Volume 419, issue 4, pages 3521-3528
Published in print February 2012 | ISSN: 0035-8711
Published online January 2012 | e-ISSN: 1365-2966 | DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.1111/j.1365-2966.2011.19990.x
Variation of the area-to-mass ratio of high area-to-mass ratio space debris objects

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An unexpected space debris population with the unique property of a very high area-to-mass ratio (HAMR) was detected in 2004 by Schildknecht and colleagues. Ever since, attempts have been made to investigate the dynamical properties of these objects further. Their orbits are heavily perturbed by the effect of direct radiation pressure, and unknown attitude motion complicates orbit prediction. The area-to-mass ratio of the objects seems to be unstable over time. Only sparse optical data are available for these objects in drift orbits.

This paper makes use of optical observations of five HAMR objects, observed over several years, and investigates the variation of their area-to-mass ratio and orbital parameters. A normalized orbit determination setup is established and validated with two low- and two high-area-to-mass-ratio-objects, to ensure that comparable orbits over longer time spans are determined even with sparse optical data.

Keywords: methods: data analysis; Catalogues; celestial mechanics; ephemeredes; minor planets, asteroids: individual: space debris

Journal Article.  3992 words.  Illustrated.

Subjects: Astronomy and Astrophysics

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