BOX 12.1
Research Needs and Management Issues to Be Considered in the Formulation of an MMOD Strategic Plan

Throughout this report, the committee identifies various areas of potential research and a number of management actions that would strengthen NASA’s meteoroid and orbital debris (MMOD) programs. Adoption of a strategic plan of the sort envisioned by the committee would require evaluation and prioritization of these areas and activities, which include the following:

1. Perform radar cross-section calibrations using fragments from a large range of materials used in modern satellites and rocket bodies, as well as non-fragmentation debris. (Chapter 2)

2. Expand the environment measurement program to include use of in situ sensors to monitor the flux of debris smaller than a few millimeters. (Chapter 2)

3. Expand efforts to more accurately model sources of debris. (Chapter 3)

4. Develop criteria or a schedule for the regular release of updates to NASA’s orbital debris- and meteoroid-related models. (Chapter 3)

5. Establish a base effort to evaluate major environmental uncertainties in three areas: (a) meteoroid velocity distributions, (b) flux of meteoroids of larger sizes (greater than 100 microns), and (c) impact plasma effects. (Chapter 4)

6. Adopt a single model of the meteoroid environment for official use. (Chapter 4)

7. Pursue improving the understanding of the hazards posed by interplanetary meteoroids. (Chapter 4)

8. Expand research on meteoroids to include an understanding of the possible link between spacecraft electrical anomalies and major meteor showers. (Chapter 4)

9. Perform a broad integrative analysis of the various risks posed by meteoroids and orbital debris (whether probabilistic risk analysis or some alternative). (Chapter 5)

10. Identify major areas of uncertainty in current environmental models and risk assessments, and develop test plans and analyses to reduce that uncertainty. (Chapter 5)

11. Undertake an effort to refine models for predicting impact damage using a statistics-based approach. (Chapter 6)

12. Undertake an effort to re-derive the ballistic limit equations in the BUMPER code using a statistics-based approach that would provide information regarding uncertainty bounds and/or confidence intervals. (Chapter 6)

13. Increase efforts to characterize the damage resulting from impacts of orbital debris of various particle shapes and densities. (Chapter 6)

14. Expand program plans to include the technology, political, and legal considerations necessary to increase international cooperation on mitigation and remediation measures to stabilize the orbital debris environment. (Chapter 7)

15. In regard to reentry risks, re-examine how thresholds for ground injury effects are estimated and provide confidence bounds and uncertainty assessments. (Chapter 8)

16. Develop a research plan for (a) assessing the impact of the inaccuracy in the uncertainty in computing the probability of collision and in the ensuing risk assessment and (b) improving the accuracy of the computation of the probability of collision in the presence of these uncertainty errors. (Chapter 9)

17. Initiate an effort to record, analyze, report, and share data on satellite anomalies in order to better quantify the risk from orbital debris particulates too small to be cataloged yet large enough to disrupt space operations. (Chapter 10)

18. Continue to engage the private sector, U.S. federal agencies, and international agencies in developing cooperation and political will to effectively address issues regarding orbital debris. (Chapter 11)

19. Identify budget requirements and areas of responsibilities, including personnel and a single point of contact, for maintaining a viable program as budgets and personnel change. (Chapter 12)

20. Schedule periodic technical assessments written for policy makers and stakeholders. (Chapter 12)

21. Continue to emphasize the long-term objectives of the MMOD programs through public discussions and improved long-term models. (Chapter 13)

22. Monitor and inventory the costs of debris avoidance, mitigation, surveillance, and reporting over time. (Chapter 13)

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