Characterizing Secondary Debris Impact Ejecta


All spacecraft in low earth orbit are subject to high-speed impacts by meteoroids and orbital debris particles. These impacts can damage flight-critical systems, which can in turn lead to catastrophic failure of the spacecraft. In addition to threatening the operation of the spacecraft itself, on-orbit impacts also generate a significant amount of damaging ricochet ejecta particles. These high-speed particles can destroy critical external spacecraft subsystems, which also poses a threat to the spacecraft and its inhabitants. Since the majority of on-orbit debris impacts are expected to occur at oblique angles, the characterization of ricochet debris created in an orbital debris particle impact is an issue that must be addressed. This paper presents the results of a study performed to develop an empirical model that characterizes the secondary ejecta created by a high speed impact on a typical aerospace structural surface. Specifically, the model predicts the spread and trajectory of ricochet debris particles created in a hypervelocity impact as well as the size an velocity of the most damage particle in the ricochet debris cloud. Results obtained using the model are compared with experimental results and predictions obtained in a previous study. © 2001 Elsevier Science Ltd. All rights reserved.


Civil, Architectural and Environmental Engineering

Keywords and Phrases

Empirical model; Hypervelocity impact; Oblique impact; Orbital debris; Ricochet debris; Space Station; SPH

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Document Type

Article - Journal

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© 2024 Elsevier, All rights reserved.

Publication Date

01 Jan 2001