Effect of the Orbital Debris Environment on the High-Energy Van Allen Proton Belt

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Science  02 Dec 1988:
Vol. 242, Issue 4883, pp. 1283-1286
DOI: 10.1126/science.242.4883.1283


Orbital debris in the near-Earth environment has reached a number density sufficient for a significant collisional interaction with some of the long-lived high-energy protons in the radiation belt. As a result of a continuing buildup of a shell of man-made debris, the lifetimes of high-energy protons whose trajectories remain below 1500 kilometers will decrease to the point where in the next decades we can expect a noticeable reduction in their fluxes.