A survey of uncontrolled satellite reentry and impact prediction
Neuenfeldt, Brian D.
Henderson, William K.
Ross, I. Michael
Liu, Joseph F.
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The primary goal of this thesis is to identify the 'state-of-the-art' in orbit-decay-induced uncontrolled reentry/impact prediction methods, with an emphasis on the physics of the final few revolutions to impact. This was accomplished through a comprehensive literature survey from the 1950's to the present of unclassified military and civil databases. The results of the survey show that the current U.S. and international reentry/impact prediction methodologies are based on analysis which is over 30 years old. Of the various 'extensions' to the current reentry theory, of which the NORAD method is recognized as the international standard, there does not appear to be any one method which is singularly superior to the others. It has also been shown that numerous reentry investigations made simplifying assumptions due to insufficient data needed to accurately model reentry and also because of computing limitations of their day. Also, current deterministic dynamic models appear to inadequately describe the actual uncontrolled reentry process, due to a lack of observational data, uncertainty in determining aerodynamic coefficients, atmospheric density, and point mass modeling where changes in vehicle configuration, attitude and lift are neglected. Stochastic and statistical methods could be applied to the current methodology, to better analyze the various uncertainties, which could help to improve the overall predicted impact time and location; however, further research into these methods along with the physics of uncontrolled reentry is necessary. Reentry, Uncontrolled reentry, Reentry effects, Reentry prediction, Impact prediction, Reentry motion, Reentry aerothermodynamics, Satellite breakup, Atmospheric density models, Reentry/ impact models
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