Debris re-entry modeling using high dimensional derivative based uncertainty quantification

Piyush M. Mehta, Martin Kubicek, Edmondo Minisci, Massimiliano Vasile

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingConference contribution book

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Well-known tools developed for satellite and debris re-entry perform break-up and trajectory simulations in a deterministic sense and do not perform any uncertainty treatment. In this paper, we present work towards implementing uncertainty treatment into a Free Open Source Tool for Re-entry of Asteroids and Space Debris (FOSTRAD). The uncertainty treatment in this work is limited to aerodynamic trajectory simulation. Results for the effect of uncertain parameters on trajectory simulation of a simple spherical object is presented. The work uses a novel uncertainty quantification approach based on a new derivation of the high dimensional model representation method. Both aleatoric and epistemic uncertainties are considered in this work. Uncertain atmospheric parameters considered include density, temperature, composition, and free-stream air heat capacity. Uncertain model parameters considered include object flight path angle, object speed, object mass, and direction angle. Drag is the only aerodynamic force considered in the planar re-entry problem. Results indicate that for initial conditions corresponding to re-entry from a circular orbit, the probabilistic distributions for the impact location are far from the typically used Gaussian or ellipsoids and the high probability impact location along the longitudinal direction can be spread over ∼2000 km, while the overall distribution can be spread over ∼4000 km. High probability impact location along the lateral direction can be spread over ∼400 km.

Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationAstrodynamics 2015
Subtitle of host publicationProceedings of the AAS/AIAA Astrodynamics Specialist Conference held August 9–13, 2015, Vail, Colorado, U.S.A.
EditorsManoranjan Majji, James D. Turner, Geoff G. Wawrzyniak, William Todd Cerven
Place of PublicationSan Diego, California
Number of pages19
Publication statusPublished - 2016
EventAAS/AIAA Astrodynamics Specialist Conference, ASC 2015 - Vail, United States
Duration: 9 Aug 201513 Aug 2015

Publication series

NameAdvances in Astronautical Sciences
PublisherAmerican Astronautical Society
ISSN (Print)0065-3438


ConferenceAAS/AIAA Astrodynamics Specialist Conference, ASC 2015
Country/TerritoryUnited States


  • satellite debris
  • debris re-entry
  • space debris
  • trajectory simulations
  • uncertainty treatment
  • aleatoric
  • epistemic
  • atmospheric parameters


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