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Space debris hazards from explosions in the collinear Sun-Earth Lagrange points

Landgraf, M. 1, Jehn, R.1
Affiliation data not available1

Document details

Publishing year2001 PublisherESA Publishing typeConference Name of conference3rd European Conference on Space Debris
Pagesn/a Volume
H. Lacoste


The collinear Lagrange points of the Sun-Earth system provide an ideal environment for highly sensitive space science missions. Consequently many new missions are planed by ESA and NASA that require satellites close to these points. For example, the SOHO spacecraft built by ESA is already installed in the first collinear Lagrange point. Neither uncontrolled spacecraft nor escape motors will stay close to the Lagrange points for a long time. In case an operational satellite explodes, the fragmentation process will take place close to the Lagrange point. Apparently a number of spacecraft will accumulate close to the Lagrange points over the next decades. We investigate the space debris hazard posed by these spacecraft if they explode and fall back to an Earth orbit. From our simulation we find that, as expected, about half of the fragments drift towards the Earth while the other half drifts away from it. Around 2% of the simulated fragments even impact the Earth within one year after the explosion.