PhD Studentship: Next Generation Space Debris Environment Model.

United Kingdom
Dec 23, 2015
Dec 22, 2016
Organization Type
University and College
Full Time

PhD Studentship: Next Generation Space Debris Environment Model.


Location:  Highfield Campus
Closing Date:   Thursday 22 December 2016
Reference:  669915AK

Project Reference: NGCM-0072

Next Generation Space Debris Environment Model

Space debris has been recognised by the international space-faring community as a significant threat to spacecraft operations in Earth orbit. In 1993 the Inter-Agency Space Debris Coordination Committee (IADC) was founded with a key aim to identify space debris mitigation options. To achieve this aim several computer models were created and used by space agencies to investigate potential mitigation measures including a key strategy of post-mission disposal. The University of Southampton’s debris model, called “DAMAGE”, has been used to support these activities since 2004 and, thanks to ongoing development, remains at the forefront of space debris modelling capability worldwide. However, there is a growing consensus amongst the University team that the model is not well-suited for tackling the emerging challenges associated with space sustainability. These challenges include inter-disciplinary issues related to space debris, space operations, space situational awareness, space weather, commercialisation, possible conflicts in space and regulation. To address these issues and to provide vital inputs to ongoing and future discussions of debris mitigation and remediation options (e.g. within the IADC), a next-generation model is needed. This model will likely need to incorporate simulation (e.g. involving software agents), heuristics and learning, to capture the behaviour of space users, regulators, etc., as well as making use of novel techniques for propagating the orbits of objects and predicting collisions between them. In addition, high-performance computing solutions and emulation approaches, which make use of empirical models, may be required to allow the generation of ensembles that capture the full range of uncertainty in many elements. The project will therefore aim to develop the necessary computational methods (encompassing the full scope or focusing on the essential components) and apply these to address intractable problems that cannot be resolved using the existing approaches. As such, the project will make an important contribution to the ongoing work of the IADC and enable future space systems to be sustainable.

If you wish to discuss any details of the project informally, please contact Dr Hugh Lewis, Astronautics Research Group, Email:, Tel: +44 (0) 2380 59 3880.

This project is run through participation in the EPSRC Centre for Doctoral Training in Next Generation Computational Modelling ( For details of our 4 Year PhD programme, please see

For a details of available projects click here

Visit our Postgraduate Research Opportunities Afternoon to find out more about Postgraduate Research study within the Faculty of Engineering and the Environment: