chapter  6
16 Pages

Area/Mass and Mass Distributions of Orbital Debris

On 18 October 1993, the derelict Cosmos 1484 Earth resources spacecraft fragmented. A precursor of the current Resurs-class spacecraft, this event was unusual in that the spacecraft had been on orbit for ten years and was one of the rare Soviet payloads in Sun synchronous orbit. Both of these observations led to an early supposition that the event may have been caused by a collision with a tracked or unseen object. Analysis quickly revealed that no tracked objects were in the vicinity of the payload at the event time and that Cosmos 1484 had indeed undergone a sudden change in its mean motion and thus was the progenitor of approximately 79 debris objects (Nauer, 1993), of which 48 were eventually cataloged by the USSPACOM. However, ground-based observations of Cosmos 1484 by the German FGAN radar indicated that the spacecraft was essentially intact.