AAS 200th meeting, Albuquerque, NM, June 2002
Session 66. Space Debris: Natural, Cosmic and Manmade
Topical Session Oral, Wednesday, June 5, 2002, 2:30-4:00pm, 4:15-6:00pm, San Miguel

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[66.03] Impact Damage to Instruments

C.R. Maag (T&M Engineering), P.A. Hansen (NASA/GSFC)

Today measured impacts of orbiting manmade debris on spacecraft presents one of the more serious space environmental threats to space missions. Post-flight data from recently returned hardware have provided very interesting and alarming results. The data suggests that mathematical models are conservative for predicting the number of impacts (flux) a spacecraft will receive from small particles (less than 0.8 mm diameter), while the models predict a flux nearly a factor of 10 less than that measured for particles above 1.0 mm. The data observed at the larger sizes is well above the predicted values. In the future, as the population of debris grows with increasing space traffic, the likelihood of debris impacts will become a critical problem. Data on population growth of larger sized particles have implications concerning the constellations of satellites that will support the information super highway. It is clear that the solutions to the exacerbation of the space debris environment in constellation orbits are a combination of operations and design. For those spacecraft not in constellation orbits, it is imperative that they prevent penetrations into their interior volumes. This paper presents the problems and solutions associated with surviving the debris environment, and eliminating the penetration potential to subsystems for three (3) current NASA science missions. These innovative concepts, while simplistic in nature, of stopping hypervelocity particles have unique applications for all space systems.

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Bulletin of the American Astronomical Society, 34
© 2002. The American Astronomical Soceity.