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Tuesday, May 29, 2012

Hypervelocity impacts

Credit: European Space Agency, ESA
This image shows the results of a lab test impact between a small sphere of aluminum travelling at approximately 6.8 km/second and a block of aluminum 18 cm thick. This test simulates what can happen when a small space debris object hits a spacecraft.
  • Al sphere diameter: 1.2cm
  • Al sphere mass: about 1.7 g
  • Impact crater diameter: 9.0 cm
  • Impact crater depth: 5.3 cm
In such an impact, the pressure and temperature can exceed those found at the centre of the Earth, e.g. greater than 365 GPa and more than 6000 K.
Source: Collision & re-entry risk control, ESA Space Debris, February 19, 2009