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Space debris or natural? Impacts on NASA's Long Duration Exposure Facility.

Deshpande, Sunil Prabhakar (1993) Space debris or natural? Impacts on NASA's Long Duration Exposure Facility. Doctor of Philosophy (PhD) thesis, University of Kent. (doi:10.22024/UniKent/01.02.94303) (KAR id:94303)

Language: English

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The Long Duration Exposure Facility has provided the most complete in-situ study of the near Earth environment to date. This thesis details the spacecraft conception and development culminating in a 69 month excursion into low Earth orbit. The techniques required to analyse the retrieved data are discussed, and indeed, these techniques are applicable to any spacecraft surface or terrestrial experimental hypervelocity impact project. The results have shown that all faces of the LDEF have been impacted by both natural and anthropogenic space debris to some extent. The current models employed to determine the relative proportions of these populations on the LDEF are shown to be inadequate, although the assumptions used are quite sweeping. The modelling presented shows a definite need to use a more anisotropic distribution when discussing the natural environment that incorporates both meteor streams and comet encounters. The problems and concerns surrounding the present anthropogenic space debris population is discussed in detail concluding with the need for better Earth and space borne detection systems and understanding of orbital dynamics of small particles, presently undetectable. An average particle density for interplanetary particles of lgcnr3 is derived from a comparison of data from different experimental surfaces on the Space face of LDEF. The impact direction distributions of both natural and anthropogenic space debris is illustrated, including an enhanced space debris distribution, which accounts for some of the limits in the presently tracked data sets. These data sets are discussed in terms of generation, ownership and orbital distribution.

Item Type: Thesis (Doctor of Philosophy (PhD))
DOI/Identification number: 10.22024/UniKent/01.02.94303
Additional information: This thesis has been digitised by EThOS, the British Library digitisation service, for purposes of preservation and dissemination. It was uploaded to KAR on 25 April 2022 in order to hold its content and record within University of Kent systems. It is available Open Access using a Creative Commons Attribution, Non-commercial, No Derivatives ( licence so that the thesis and its author, can benefit from opportunities for increased readership and citation. This was done in line with University of Kent policies ( If you feel that your rights are compromised by open access to this thesis, or if you would like more information about its availability, please contact us at and we will seriously consider your claim under the terms of our Take-Down Policy (
Uncontrolled keywords: Space technology, general
Subjects: Q Science > QC Physics
Divisions: Divisions > Division of Natural Sciences > Physics and Astronomy
SWORD Depositor: SWORD Copy
Depositing User: SWORD Copy
Date Deposited: 04 Jul 2023 13:21 UTC
Last Modified: 04 Jul 2023 13:21 UTC
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