Monday, January 30, 2012

1201.5274 (Ch. Hubaux et al.)

Symplectic integration of space debris motion considering several
Earth's shadowing models

Ch. Hubaux, A. Lemaître, N. Delsate, T. Carletti
In this work, we present a symplectic integration scheme to numerically
compute space debris motion. Such an integrator is particularly suitable to
obtain reliable trajectories of objects lying on high orbits, especially
geostationary ones. Indeed, it has already been demonstrated that such objects
could stay there for hundreds of years. Our model takes into account the
Earth's gravitational potential, luni-solar and planetary gravitational
perturbations and direct solar radiation pressure. Based on the analysis of the
energy conservation and on a comparison with a high order non-symplectic
integrator, we show that our algorithm allows us to use large time steps and
keep accurate results. We also propose an innovative method to model Earth's
shadow crossings by means of a smooth shadow function. In the particular
framework of symplectic integration, such a function needs to be included
analytically in the equations of motion in order to prevent numerical drifts of
the energy. For the sake of completeness, both cylindrical shadows and penumbra
transitions models are considered. We show that both models are not equivalent
and that big discrepancies actually appear between associated orbits,
especially for high area-to-mass ratios.
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