Estimating the area of artificial space debris

R. A. Madler, K. Jorgensen, D. B. Spencer, R. D. Culp

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

1 Scopus citations


The physical characteristics of breakup debris are essential to properly estimate the orbital debris environment and its hazard to spacecraft. Direct measurements of the cross sectional area of debris fragments have not been performed in the past. This paper examines methods to determine the physical cross section of debris objects from ground based fragmentations. The results of these measurements are compared to standard models for debris. For the smaller objects, the models and measurements agree well. The measurements of objects above a certain threshold diverge from the predicted cross sectional area.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)297-302
Number of pages6
JournalEuropean Space Agency, (Special Publication) ESA SP
Issue number393
StatePublished - 1997

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Aerospace Engineering
  • Space and Planetary Science


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