Date of Award

6-2013

Degree Name

MS in Aerospace Engineering

Department

Aerospace Engineering

Advisor

Dr. Kira Abercromby

Abstract

Micrometeoroids and orbital debris (MMOD) is a growing issue with international importance. Micrometeoroids are naturally occurring fragments of rock and dusk that exist throughout the solar system. Orbital debris is human made material like rocket bodies, paint flakes, and the effluent of spacecraft collisions. Even small MMOD particles on the order of 1 cm in diameter have the potential to destroy critical spacecraft systems. Because of this, MMOD is a threat to all spacecraft in orbit. Even governments that most sternly oppose US international policy have a stake when it comes to minimizing MMOD flux. Space-based assets are essential to support the growing demand for high-capacity communications networks around the world. These networks support services that civilian and military users have grown accustomed to using on a daily basis: Global Positioning System (GPS), Satellite Radio, Internet Backhaul, Unmanned Areal Vehicles (UAVs), and Reconnaissance Satellites [Figure \ref{figure:skynet}]. A sudden loss of these services could degrade the warfighter's capabilities and cripple commercial enterprises that rely on these technologies. Manned space efforts like the International Space Station (ISS) could also suffer as a result of increased MMOD flux.

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