The Space Environment Group has been working on space debris modelling since 1992 and over the years have developed state-of-the-art software (DAMAGE, SHIELD and FADE) to help predict and simulate the numbers of orbital collisions and resulting fragments, trajectories of debris clouds, their response to potential debris-mitigating policies and suggestions for active removal. The software can also be used to optimise spacecraft design for maximum protection against debris and meteoroids.

Another set of software (NEOSim, NEOImpactor and NEOMiSS) has been developed which allows extensive simulation of Near Earth Objects impacts.  Near earth objects (NEOs) are essentially asteroids or comets in Earth-crossing orbits that pose an impact threat.  Even a relatively small object (50m in diameter) would have a devastating effect if it fell in a populated area – a catastrophe greater than earthquake, flood or hurricane.  The software the group has developed can be used to predict the effects of such disasters as well as assess the results of different mitigation strategies.

Extensive and highly innovative work is currently being undertaken in the field of understanding and predicting Solar Energetic Particle Events and other sun-associated aspects of space weather.  The results, obtained using a novel modelling methodology, are striking and seem to indicate that these events are not as random as previously thought.

In 2009, atomic oxygen sensors developed in collaboration with the Engineering Materials research group were used as part of the MEDET (Materials Exposure and Degradation Experiment) module of EUTEF (European Union Technology Exposure Facility) which flew on the space shuttle Columbus.

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