A document describes a series of models created for the determination of the probability of survival of critical spacecraft components from particle strike damage caused by hyper-velocity impact of meteoroids and/or orbital debris. These models were integrated with both shield design and hypervelocity impact testing to develop adequate protection of said components to meet mission survivability requirements.

Spacecraft configuration and construction were determined, including geometric shapes, dimensions, positions, material of construction, etc., for the spacecraft or component. The types and levels of damage allowable for each protected component were determined.

Critical damage was defined by the damage level that will cause loss of function of the protected component. Required probability of survival for the critical components was determined. This was done by determining the probability of survival based on exposure only, neglecting shielding. Next, a Monte Carlo simulation was run representing all possible particle impacts, collecting data on shielding-protecting components. An empirical physics-based model that estimates the incident kinetic energy required to cause critical damage to the compo- nent was applied to each Monte Carlo simulated particle strike.

This work was done by James G. Zwitter and Marc A. Adams of Caltech for NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory. NPO-46082


This Brief includes a Technical Support Package (TSP).
Meteoroid/Orbital Debris Shield Engineering Development Practice and Procedure

(reference NPO-46082) is currently available for download from the TSP library.

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This article first appeared in the April, 2011 issue of NASA Tech Briefs Magazine.

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