Global dynamics of high area-to-mass ratios GEO space debris by means of the MEGNO indicator

Stéphane Valk, Nicolas Delsate, Anne Lemaître, Timoteo Carletti

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    In this paper we provide an extensive analysis of the global dynamics of high-area-to-mass ratios geosynchronous (GEO) space debris, applying a recent technique developed by Cincotta et al. (2000), Mean Exponential Growth factor of Nearby Orbits (MEGNO), which provides an efficient tool to investigate both regular and chaotic components of the phase space. We compute a stability atlas, for a large set of near-geosynchronous space debris by numerically computing the MEGNO indicator, to provide an accurate understanding of the location of stable and unstable orbits as well as the timescale of their exponential divergence in case of chaotic motion. The results improve the analysis presented in Breiter et al. (2005a) notably by considering the particular case of high-area-to-mass ratios space debris. The results indicate that chaotic orbits region can be highly relevant, especially for very high area-to-mass ratios. Then, we provide some numerical investigastions and an analytical theory which lead to a detailed understanding of the resonance structures appearing in the phase space. These analyses bring to the fore a relevant class of secondary resonances on both sides of the well-known pendulum-like pattern of geostationary space debris, leading to complex dynamics of such objects.
    Original languageEnglish
    Pages (from-to)1509-1526
    Number of pages18
    JournalAdvances in Space Research
    Publication statusPublished - 2009


    • Solar radiation pressure
    • Space debris
    • MEGNO
    • Detection of chaos
    • Long-term evolution
    • Geosynchronous orbit
    • High area-to-mass ratios
    • Secondary resonances


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