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Simulations of earth's local particulate environment.

Mackay, Neil G (1994) Simulations of earth's local particulate environment. Doctor of Philosophy (PhD) thesis, University of Kent. (doi:10.22024/UniKent/01.02.94496) (KAR id:94496)


Since the dawn of the space age the near earth environment has been becoming increasingly more cluttered with man made products. In recent years there has been a growing fear that the size of this population is approaching a critical threshold. If the population should pass this threshold there would follow a catastrophic series of collision related breakups resulting in a space environment too 'dirty ’ to make further satellite launches feasible. The situation is further aggravated by the existence of natural cosmic dust passing through near Earth space.

The broad aim of the project was to help achieve a better understanding of the near Earth cosmic dust and space debris environment. Specifically the aim was to test existing theories about the dust and debris populations by the use of modelling, experiments and of actual data taken from space exposed materials, from the Long Duration Exposure Facility (LDEF).

Two independent computer models were created. The first model simulates impacts on LDEF from cosmic dust particles. The second model simulates impacts on LDEF from space debris.

The models allow the researcher to vary certain parameters about debris and dust populations. The models will then predict, from the researcher's defined parameters, the quantity and distribution of impacts expected on LDEF. These predictions can then be compared with the data gathered from microscopic examination of LDEF materials.

A number of possible scenarios were investigated in this manner and their strengths and weaknesses assessed in terms of how well they satisfied the LDEF data.

In addition an experimental program using a light gas gun and an electrostatic accelerator to produce hypervelocity impact craters was initiated. Ways of attaining more information about individual impact events by study of the impact crater morphology were investigated.

Item Type: Thesis (Doctor of Philosophy (PhD))
DOI/Identification number: 10.22024/UniKent/01.02.94496
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 debris; Earth cosmic dust
Subjects: Q Science > QC Physics
Divisions: Divisions > Division of Natural Sciences > Physics and Astronomy
SWORD Depositor: SWORD Copy
Depositing User: SWORD Copy
Date Deposited: 12 May 2023 11:09 UTC
Last Modified: 12 May 2023 11:09 UTC
Resource URI: (The current URI for this page, for reference purposes)

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