The title pretty much says it all. As far as I can tell the default method by which space debris objects are tracked/stored in a database is using two line element sets. However these have no way to get the object mass (again, as far as I understand?). So is there another data set that can be brought inline with TLEs (maybe by the satellite ID?)

  • $\begingroup$ If there is small debris trackable by radar but of unknown size, shape and material, how should we know the mass? Debris resulting from a collision between two satellites, if you know the mass of both satellites before collision and the number of detected debris objects you may guess a mean mass ignoring the mass of debris objects too small for detection. $\endgroup$ – Uwe Apr 2 at 12:55
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    $\begingroup$ Also, even for active satellites, their mass changes over time as they expend stationkeeping or maneuvering fuel. $\endgroup$ – Organic Marble Apr 2 at 15:15
  • $\begingroup$ @Uwe this is all true, yet there are models used to estimate space debris growth - these models must have the mass of the object to work! $\endgroup$ – user6916458 Apr 2 at 15:39
  • $\begingroup$ @organicmarble for most satellites the change in mass from propellant change is (reasonably) small as a percentage of the total mass (at least AFAIK). $\endgroup$ – user6916458 Apr 2 at 15:40
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    $\begingroup$ @user6916458 half their mass can be propellant for a geo comsat. See page 8-9 here ntrs.nasa.gov/archive/nasa/casi.ntrs.nasa.gov/19920019663.pdf $\endgroup$ – Organic Marble Apr 2 at 15:48

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