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Optical fragment tracking in hypervelocity impact experiments

: Watson, Erkai; Gulde, Max; Schäfer, Frank; Hiermaier, Stefan

International Astronautical Federation:
Unlocking imagination, fostering innovation and strengthening security. Vol.6 : 68th International Astronautical Congress (IAC 2017); Adelaide, Australia 25-29 September 2017
Red Hook, NY: Curran, 2018
ISBN: 978-1-5108-5537-3
International Astronautical Congress (IAC) <68, 2017, Adelaide>
Conference Paper
Fraunhofer EMI ()
hypervelocity impact; fragmentation; particle tracking; satellite breakup

In-orbit impacts between satellites and space debris lead to varying degrees of fragmentation, ranging anywhere from minor damage to complete breakups. In this paper, we describe an experimental measurement approach for studying the fragmentation effects of hypervelocity impact in the laboratory. We investigate hypervelocity impacts on a thin aluminum bumper plates and track individual fragments in the debris clouds with an innovative algorithm that bases matches on trajectories instead of features. The experimental setup involves recording the debris cloud fragments illuminated by a thin laser plane with a high-speed video camera. The image sequence is analyzed, yielding spatio-temporal information about each fragment in the debris cloud. This allows individual fragment size and velocity information, to directly measured.