Characterizing the Largest Debris Cloud Particle Created by Thin Plate Impact

July, 2022
IDA document: P-33178
FFRDC: Systems and Analyses Center
Type: Documents , Space
Division: Operational Evaluation Division
Joel E. Williamsen, William Schonberg See more authors
All spacecraft are subject to the possibility of high-speed particle impacts during their mission life. Such high-speed impacts on spacecraft surfaces create debris clouds that travel towards and eventually impact other downstream spacecraft components. In addition to the impulsive load that such debris clouds would deliver, the largest fragment in these debris clouds also poses a significant threat to those spacecraft elements. In order to be able to assess the severity of the threat posed by such a fragment, it is important to be able to predict the size of this largest fragment and its associated velocity. In this paper, we develop empirical equations that can be used 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.