Public Risk Assessment Program

The Public Entry Risk Assessment (PERA) program addresses risk to the public from shuttle or other spacecraft re-entry trajectories. Managing public risk to acceptable levels is a major component of safe spacecraft operation. PERA is given scenario inputs of vehicle trajectory, probability of failure along that trajectory, the resulting debris characteristics, and field size and distribution, and returns risk metrics that quantify the individual and collective risk posed by that scenario. Due to the large volume of data required to perform such a risk analysis, PERA was designed to streamline the analysis process by using innovative mathematical analysis of the risk assessment equations. Real-time analysis in the event of a shuttle contingency operation, such as damage to the Orbiter, is possible because PERA allows for a change to the probability of failure models, therefore providing a much quicker estimation of public risk.

PERA also provides the ability to generate movie files showing how the entry risk changes as the entry develops. PERA was designed to streamline the computation of the enormous amounts of data needed for this type of risk assessment by using an average distribution of debris on the ground, rather than pinpointing the impact point of every piece of debris. This has reduced the amount of computational time significantly without reducing the accuracy of the results. PERA was written in MATLAB; a compiled version can run from a DOS or UNIX prompt.

This program was written by Gavin Mendeck of Johnson Space Center. For more information, download the Technical Support Package (free white paper) at www.techbriefs.com/tsp under the Software category. MSC-24166-1

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