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Predicting the vulnerability of spacecraft components: modelling debris impact effects through vulnerable-zones

By SpaceRef Editor
March 13, 2020
Filed under , ,

Mirko Trisolini, Hugh G. Lewis, Camilla Colombo

(Submitted on 10 Mar 2020)

The space environment around the Earth is populated by more than 130 million objects of 1 mm in size and larger, and future predictions shows that this amount is destined to increase, even if mitigation measures are implemented at a far better rate than today. These objects can hit and damage a spacecraft or its components. It is thus necessary to assess the risk level for a satellite during its mission lifetime. Few software packages perform this analysis, and most of them employ time-consuming ray-tracing methodology, where particles are randomly sampled from relevant distributions. In addition, they tend not to consider the risk associated with the secondary debris clouds. The paper presents the development of a vulnerability assessment model, which relies on a fully statistical procedure: the debris fluxes are directly used combining them with the concept of the vulnerable zone, avoiding the random sampling the debris fluxes. A novel methodology is presented to predict damage to internal components. It models the interaction between the components and the secondary debris cloud through basic geometric operations, considering mutual shielding and shadowing between internal components. The methodologies are tested against state-of-the-art software for relevant test cases, comparing results on external structures and internal components.

Comments: Article accepted for pubblication in Advances in Space Research

Subjects: Instrumentation and Methods for Astrophysics (astro-ph.IM); Computational Engineering, Finance, and Science (cs.CE); Space Physics (

Cite as: arXiv:2003.05521 [astro-ph.IM] (or arXiv:2003.05521v1 [astro-ph.IM] for this version)

Submission history

From: Mirko Trisolini 

[v1] Tue, 10 Mar 2020 15:17:02 UTC (3,407 KB)

SpaceRef staff editor.