Numerical Simulation in Micrometeoroid and Orbital Debris Risk Assessment



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 
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© Springer Science+Business Media, LLC 2009

Authors and Affiliations

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

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