Fragmentation model and strewn field estimation for meteoroids entry

by   Simone Limonta, et al.

Everyday thousands of meteoroids enter the Earth's atmosphere. The vast majority burn up harmlessly during the descent, but the larger objects survive, occasionally experiencing intense fragmentation events, and reach the ground. These events can pose a threat for a village or a small city; therefore, models of asteroid fragmentation, along with accurate post-breakup trajectory and strewn field estimation, are needed to enable a reliable risk assessment. In this work, a methodology to describe meteoroids entry, fragmentation, descent, and strewn field is presented by means of a continuum approach. At breakup, a modified version of the NASA Standard Breakup Model is used to generate the distribution of the fragments in terms of their area-to-mass ratio and ejection velocity. This distribution, combined with the meteoroid state, is directly propagated using the continuity equation coupled with the non-linear entry dynamics. At each time step, the probability density evolution of the fragments is reconstructed using GMM interpolation. Using this information is then possible to estimate the meteoroid's ground impact probability. This approach departs from the current state-of-the-art models: it has the flexibility to include large fragmentation events while maintaining a continuum formulation for a better physical representation of the phenomenon. The methodology is also characterised by a modular structure, so that updated asteroids fragmentation models can be readily integrated into the framework, allowing a continuously improving prediction of re-entry and fragmentation events. The propagation of the fragments' density and its reconstruction, currently considering only one fragmentation point, is first compared against Monte Carlo simulations, and then against real observations. Both deceleration due to atmospheric drag and ablation due to aerothermodynamics effects have been considered.



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