Characterizing the Largest Debris Cloud Particle Created by Thin Plate Impact


All Spacecraft Are Subject to the Possibility of High-Speed Particle Impacts during their Mission Life. Such Impacts Create Debris Clouds that Travel toward and Eventually Impact Downstream Spacecraft Components. in Addition to the Impulsive Load that Such Debris Clouds Deliver, the Largest Fragment in These Debris Clouds Also Poses a Significant Threat to Spacecraft Elements. to Assess the Severity of the Threat Posed by Such a Fragment, We Must Be Able to Predict the Size of This Largest Fragment and its Associated Velocity. in This Paper, We Present Empirical Equations to Predict These Quantities in Terms of the Material Properties of the Surface that Sustains the Initial Impact, the Characteristics that Define the Impact Event, and the Material Properties of the Impacting Projectile. We Compare the Predictions of These Equations Against Experimental Values for Largest Fragment Size and its Associated Velocity and the Predictions of These Quantities Obtained using Numerical Simulations of High-Speed Impact Events. These Comparisons Indicate that the Empirical Equations for the Largest Debris Cloud Fragment Size and Velocity Fare Very Well, as a Whole, Across the Entire Impact Velocity Regime of ∼2–55 Km∕s.


Civil, Architectural and Environmental Engineering


NASA Engineering and Safety Center, Grant None

International Standard Serial Number (ISSN)

1533-6794; 0022-4650

Document Type

Article - Journal

Document Version


File Type





© 2023 American Institute of Aeronautics and Astronautics, All rights reserved.

Publication Date

01 Mar 2023