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Dr Camilla Colombo

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Dr. Camilla Colombo is Marie Curie Research Fellow at Politecnico di Milano (Italy) on the FP7 project “Space Debris Evolution, Collision risk, and Mitigation”. She holds a lecturer position from the University of Southampton (UK). Her research focuses on the orbital dynamics in presence of perturbations, trajectory optimisation and control applied to space debris, asteroids and high area-to-mass spacecraft. Her research career started Glasgow, where she got a PhD from the University of Glasgow and was ERC Research Fellow at the University of Strathclyde.She is currently involved in two ESA studies on “End-Of-Life Disposal Concepts for Lagrange-Point and Highly Elliptical Orbit Missions” and “Disposal strategies analysis for MEO orbits“.


Space debris detection, evolution and disposal
The space surrounding our planet is densely populated by an increasing number man-made space debris, most of which are deriving from break-up of operating satellites, or abandoned spacecraft, or upper stages at the end of mission. Space debris poses a threat to current and future space activities as fragments can collide at very high velocity and damage operating satellites, leading sometimes to the complete failure of the mission. Breakups generate clouds of hundreds of thousands of fragments which are difficult to track due to their small sizes.
Space debris orbits evolve in the Earth environment under the effects of perturbations; uncertainties on the object characteristics (such are the area-to-mass ratio, the attitude and the material) make their orbit difficult to be predicted.
This talk will describe the orbital dynamics under the effect of orbit perturbations using semi-analytical techniques to average the motion over the fast variables. The dynamics under the effect of solar radiation pressure, luni-solar perturbations and the zonal harmonics of the Earth gravity field can be represented in the phase space of orbital elements to understand the long term evolution of the orbit. This insight into the orbit evolution allow the exploitation of orbit perturbations to design the end-of-life disposal of spacecraft in Medium and Low Earth Orbit, Highly Elliptical Orbit, Libration Point Orbit, by engineering the effects of luni-solar perturbation and solar radiation pressure. Moreover, the evolution of a cloud of fragments following a collision in space can be described with a continuum approach to allow the fast prediction of the consequences of a fragmentation event in Low Earth Orbit. Finally, some preliminary orbit selection for space detection of debris object in Geostationary orbits will be shown.

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