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Study of Cislunar space dynamics and environment for orbital debris mitigation

Implementation progress
05 February 2020

Duration: 36 months


The main goal of this proposed interdisciplinary research project between ISAE SUPAERO, ESOC and Thales Alenia Space is to map orbits in the Cislunar space in order to assess their long-term evolution and identify available spacecraft disposal options; this is necessary to mitigate the collision risk in Cislunar space as well as in Earth orbits, and the on-ground risk for population and property on the Earth surface. As of now, mitigation strategies and disposal options are well established for what concerns standard Earth orbits. Around the Moon, the current solution for disposal of lunar spacecraft has been the natural de-orbiting that incurs for low orbits with high instability. Nevertheless, due to the increasing interest in extending human presence to the Moon and to Cislunar space, a new space economy is likely to emerge, bringing a plausible increase of traffic towards the Moon in the coming years. This research proposes to extend the systematic mapping approach used around the Earth creating a dynamic cartography of the Cislunar space using non-keplerian, multi-body orbital dynamics to perform long-term propagations, thanks to ISAE availability of models and simulators. Based on different future lunar traffic scenarios, the Lunar and Cislunar debris environment will be simulated, and different disposal strategies can be proposed with the aim of providing the technical foundations to establish guidelines for future lunar missions. A case study focused on Cubesats constellations will be developed with Thales Alenia Space, considering deploying, orbit maintenance and disposal strategies. Europe will take an integral part in Moon exploration, and there is a genuine interest for Europe to explore the technical disposal options in order to prepare with a clear position towards upcoming standardisation and best practices, also considering that disposal strategies in the lunar environment have not yet been thoroughly addressed.

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Main application area
Space Safety
Topical cluster
Study of Cislunar space dynamics and environment for orbital debris mitigation