A TSU scientist calculates the path of unpredictable space objects

Ivan Chuvashov,the Scientific Research Institute of Applied Mathematics and Mechanics has presented a new algorithm for calculating the trajectory of unpredictable space objects, for example, pieces of foil wrapped on space vehicles. The algorithm is described in his Ph.D. thesis, which he defended at the Central Astronomical Observatory of the Russian Academy of Sciences at Pulkovo in early June.

Ivan Chuvashov studies cosmic objects with a large sailing capacity, those that have a small mass, but at the same time a fairly large area turned towards the sun. Just as the sail on a boat turns and takes the wind speed, so these objects get a boost from the photons of the sun. Because of this, their orbits are constantly changing. And even if they do not pose a threat now, they are potentially dangerous in the future.

- We are trying to predict the trajectory of these objects and to determine the probability of a collision over a longer period. The aerospace defense of North America (NORAD) is doing this online and the probability of collision of space debris with each other and with operating spacecraft is recomputed each time. We have another approach: We want to build numerical models that would be able to determine these collisions with about the same probability, but with a small number of observations, - explains Ivan Chuvashov.

TSU scientists observed space debris for a year and collected more than 10,000 observations of objects flying in near-earth space. All these are objects with a large sailing capacity.

The task of Tomsk scientists is to secure satellites that are in higher orbits than the International Space Station, for example, navigation and geostationary satellites. In a situation where space debris does not threaten the lives of astronauts, such long-term planning is more justified.

According to the NORAD data from open monitoring, at the moment, there are slightly less than 42,000 objects in the circumterrestrial space with a size of 10 cm or more, and only 10% of them are functioning. All the rest is so-called space debris, even a small piece of which can damage operating satellites and spacecraft.