DebriSat Panel Preparation and Fragment Characterization

Space debris presents a major risk to the success of space missions. At orbital velocity, a collision with a fragment as small as 1 cm in size can cause catastrophic damage. Fragmentation debris is of particular importance because it makes up over forty percent of the rapidly increasing number of catalogued objects orbiting the Earth. Satellite breakup models are used to make predictions regarding fragments that are too small to be tracked from the ground, yet are large enough to pose a risk to satellites. However, the 2009 collision between Iridium-33 and Cosmos-2251 demonstrated the need to update the current NASA satellite breakup model. This model, which is based on a hypervelocity impact of a 1960s Navy satellite, failed to accurately predict the debris field produced by the newer Iridium satellite. The failure of the model was attributed to the newer materials and construction techniques used in the fabrication of the Iridium-33 satellite. The DebriSat project was conceived as a mechanism to update the current satellite breakup model. The DebriSat satellite was a 50-kg satellite designed and fabricated with modern materials and procedures to be representative of satellites found in low Earth orbit (LEO). The DebriSat satellite was subjected to a hypervelocity impact test at Arnold Engineering Development Center (AEDC) where the test chamber was lined with foam panels to preserve the fragments resulting from the impact. These panels were collected and shipped to the University of Florida where they are being processed to extract the fragments which are then characterized and catalogued. This task focuses on the database used to catalogue the fragments.


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Filing Info

  • Accession Number: 01678242
  • Record Type: Research project
  • Source Agency: Federal Aviation Administration Center of Excellence for Commercial Space Transportation
  • Files: RiP, USDOT
  • Created Date: Aug 22 2018 1:03PM