Program deep: A modeling approach for estimating the space debris environment and its effects

David B. Spencer, Scott R. Maethner, Kenneth W. Yates, Ronald A. Madler

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Determining the current debris population is the first step toward quantifying the hazard posed by natural and man-made debris. Ground-based sensors currently track and maintain orbits of the largest objects in this population. Statistical estimates of the population of smaller objects have also recently been made. The second step toward quantifying the hazard is to use models to estimate future debris populations and the effects they could have on future space operations. The United States Air Force (USAF) Phillips Laboratory has developed and is improving such a model as part of its space debris research program. The model is called the Debris Environment and Effects Program (DEEP). DEEP is being developed to: (1) estimate a range of possible future debris environments based on a variety of parameters, (2) determine the collision hazard for specific vehicles operating in these environments, (3) determine the effects of potential collisions on vehicle mission performance and (4) evaluate the effects of implementing various options for mitigating man-made debris. The DEEP model approach to estimating the present and future debris environments is presented. Recent developments and plans for future enhancements to the model are discussed. Preliminary model estimates of the current and projected environment are presented and analyzed.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)267-278
Number of pages12
JournalScience and Technology Series
StatePublished - 1997

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Aerospace Engineering


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