Numerical Simulation in Micrometeoroid and Orbital Debris Risk Assessment

  • Shannon Ryan


The threat of micrometeoroid and orbital debris (MMOD) impacts on space vehicles is assessed in terms of the probability of an impactor penetrating the spacecraft hull, and the probability of a penetrating impact resulting in catastrophic failure. These values are calculated in risk analysis codes which combine spacecraft geometry, debris environment models, and equations that define the penetration limits of the spacecraft outer structure (called ballistic limit equations, or BLEs). To characterize the performance of spacecraft structures under impact of MMOD particles at hypervelocity, experimental facilities such as two-stage light gas guns are commonly used. However, these facilities are only capable of reproducing approximately 40% of expected in-orbit impact conditions. As a result, numerical techniques are ideally suited for application in this field. The use of numerical hydrocodes in MMOD risk assessment is, historically, very limited. However, as code maturity continues to develop, their application becomes increasingly accepted. Within this chapter three examples are presented in which numerical hydrocodes were used in tandem with experimental testing for MMOD risk assessments. Beginning with the most simplistic application, i.e. derivation of perforation limits, the examples extend to the propagation of impact-induced dynamic disturbances through complex satellite structures.


Impact Velocity Sandwich Panel Ballistic Limit Honeycomb Core Laser Vibrometer 
These keywords were added by machine and not by the authors. This process is experimental and the keywords may be updated as the learning algorithm improves.


Unable to display preview. Download preview PDF.

Unable to display preview. Download preview PDF.


  1. 1.
    Jones, J.: Meteoroid Engineering Model ’ Final Report. University of Western Ontario, London, NASA SEE/CR-2004-400 (2004)Google Scholar
  2. 2.
    Liou, J-C., Matney, M., Anz-Meador, P., Kessler, D., Jansen, M., Theall, J.: The New NASA Orbital Debris Engineering Model ORDEM2000. Lockheed Martin Space Operations, Houston, NASA TP-2002-210780 (2002)Google Scholar
  3. 3.
    Cour-Palais, B.: Hypervelocity Impact Investigations and Meteoroid Shielding Experience Related to Apollo and Skylab. Orbital Debris, 247–275 (1982)Google Scholar
  4. 3.
    Christiansen E., Kerr, J.: Ballistic Limit Equations for Spacecraft Shielding. International Journal of Impact Engineering 26, 93–104 (2001)CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  5. 4.
    Christiansen, E., Kerr, J.: Ballistic Limit Equations for Spacecraft Shielding. International Journal of Impact Engineering 26, 93-104 (2001)CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  6. 5.
    Piekutowsi, A.: Fragmentation-Initiation Threshold for Spheres Impacting at Hypervelocity. International Journal of Impact Engineering 29, 563-574 (2003)CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  7. 6.
    Cour-Palais, B.: Meteoroid Protection by Multiwall Structures. AIAA Hypervelocity Impact Conference, Cincinatti (1969)Google Scholar
  8. 7.
    Christiansen, E.: Meteoroid/Debris Shielding. NASA Johnson Space Center, Houston, NASA TP-2003-120788 (2003)Google Scholar
  9. 8.
    McMillan A.: Experimental Investigations of Simulated Meteoroid Damage to Various Spacecraft Structures, General Motors Corporation, Santa Barbara, NASA CR-915 (1968)Google Scholar
  10. 9.
    Schonberg, W., Copper, D.: Repeatability and Uncertainty Analyses of NASA/MSFC Light Gas Gun Test Data. University of Alabama, Huntsville, NASA CR-192496 (1993)Google Scholar
  11. 10.
    Christiansen, E., Crews, J., Williamsen, J., Robinson, J., Nolen, A.: Enhanced Meteoroid and Orbital Debris Shielding 17, 217-228 (1995)Google Scholar
  12. 11.
    Frost, V.: Meteoroid Damage Assessment ’ NASA Space Vehicle Design Criteria (Structures). Aerospace Corporation, Langley, NASA SP-8042 (1970)Google Scholar
  13. 12.
    Schmidt, R., Housen, K.: Cadmium Simulation of Orbital-Debris Shield Performance to Scaled Velocities of 18  km/s. Journal of Spacecraft and Rockets 31(5), 866-877 (1994)CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  14. 13.
    Christiansen, E., Crews, J., Kerr, J., Cour-Palais, B., Cykowski, E.: Testing the Validity of Cadmium Scaling. International Journal of Impact Engineering 17, 205-215 (1995)CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  15. 14.
    Palmieri, D., Faraud, M., Destefanis, R., Marchetti, M.: Whipple Shield Ballistic Limit at Impact Velocities Higher Than 7  km/s. Int. J. of Impact Engineering 26, 579-590 (2001)CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  16. 15.
    Kerr, J., Fahrenthold, E.: Three Dimensional Hypervelocity Impact Simulation for Orbital Debris Shield Design. International Journal of Impact Engineering 20, 479-489 (1997)CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  17. 16.
    Schaefer, F., Ryan, S., Destefanis, R., Rott, M., Mandeville, J.: Composite Materials Impact Damage Analysis ’ Final Report. FhG EMI, Freiburg, Report No. I-69/05 (2005)Google Scholar
  18. 17.
    Riedel, W., Nahme, H., White, D., Clegg, R.: Advanced Material Model for Hypervelocity Impact Simulations (ADAMMO), FhG EMI, Freiburg, ESA CR(P) 4397 (2003)Google Scholar
  19. 18.
    Anon.: ANSYS AUTODYN User Manual ’ Version 11.0, Century Dynamics Inc., Concord (2007)Google Scholar
  20. 19.
    Ryan, S., Riedel, W., Schaefer, F.: Numerical Study of Hypervelocity Space Debris Impacts on CFRP/Al Honeycomb Spacecraft Structures. 55th IAC, Vancouver (2004)Google Scholar
  21. 20.
    Ryan, S., Schaefer, F., Lambert, M.: A Ballistic Limit Equation for Hypervelocity Impacts on CFRP/Al HC Satellite Structures 41, 1152-1166 (2008)Google Scholar
  22. 21.
    Putzar, R., Schaefer, F., Romberg, O., Stokes, H., Heine, A., Zimmermann, J.: Vulnerability of Spacecraft Equipment to Space Debris and Meteoroid Impacts ’ Final Report. Fraunhofer Ernst-Mach-Institut (EMI), Freiburg, Report No. I-15/06 (2006)Google Scholar
  23. 22.
    Ryan, S., Riedel, W.: Preliminary Theoretical Material Characterization for Numerical Modelling of Composite Structures. 56th IAC, Fukuoka, IAC-05-C2.5.10 (2005)Google Scholar
  24. 23.
    Ryan, S., Schaefer, F., Riedel, W.: Numerical Simulation of Hypervelocity Impact on CFRP/Al HC SP Spacecraft Structures Causing Penetration and Fragment Ejection. International Journal of Impact Engineering 33(1-2), 703-712 (2006)CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  25. 24.
    Ryan, S., Wicklein, M., Mouritz, A., Riedel, W., Schaefer, F., Thoma, K.: Theoretical Prediction of Dynamic Composite Material Properties for Hypervelocity Impact Simulations. Int. Journal of Impact Engineering (2009)Google Scholar
  26. 25.
    Ryan, S., Schaefer, F., Guyot, M., Hiermaier, S., Lambert, M.: Characterizing the Transient Reponse of CFRP/Al HC Spacecraft Structures Induced by Space Debris Impact at Hypervelocity. International Journal of Impact Engineering 35, 1756-1763 (2008)CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  27. 26.
    Ryan, S.: Hypervelocity Impact Induced Disturbances on Composite Sandwich Panel Spacecraft Structures. Forschungsergebnisse aus der Kurzzeitdynamik ’ No. 15, Fraunhofer Institut fuer Kurzzeitdynamik, Freiburg, ISBN 978-3-8167-7522-5 (2008)Google Scholar
  28. 27.
    Vergniaud, J., Guyot, M., Lambert, M., Schaefer, F., Ryan, S., Hiermaier, S., Taylor, E.: Structural Vibrations Induced by HVI ’ Application to the GAIA Spacecraft. International Journal of Impact Engineering 35, 1836-1843 (2008)CrossRefGoogle Scholar

Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media, LLC 2009

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.USRA Lunar and Planetary InstituteNASA Johnson Space CenterQueryUSA

Personalised recommendations