Date of Award


Access Type

Thesis - Open Access

Degree Name

Master of Science in Engineering Physics


Physical Sciences

Committee Chair

Dr. Mahmut Reyhanoglu

First Committee Member

Dr. Sergey Drakunov

Second Committee Member

Dr. Geuorgui Bourov


Recently, there has been a surge of interest in the estimation of the extent of the airspace containing falling debris due to a space vehicle breakup. A precise computation of propagation of debris to the ground is not practical for many reasons. There is insufficient knowledge of the initial state vector, ambient wind conditions and the key parameters including the ballistic coecients. In addition, propagation of all debris pieces to the ground would require extensive computer time. In this thesis, a covariance propagation method is introduced for the estimation of debris propagation due to a space vehicle breakup. The falling debris is simulated, and the data are analyzed to derive the probability of debris evolution in different altitude layers over time. The concept of positional probability ellipsoids is employed for the visualization of the results. Through a case study, it is shown that while the results of the covariance propagation method are in close agreement with those of the Monte Carlo method, the covariance propagation method is much more computationally efficient than the Monte Carlo method.