With the U.S. about to embark on a new space age, the effects of the space environment on a spacecraft during its mission lifetime become more relevant. Included among these potential effects are degradation and erosion due to micrometeoroid and debris impacts, atomic oxygen and ultraviolet light exposure as well as material alteration from thermal cycling, and electron and proton exposure. This paper focuses on the effects caused by micrometeoroid and debris impacts on several LDEF aluminum plates from four different bay locations: C-12, C-10, C-01, and E-09. Each plate was coated with either a white, black, or gray thermal paint. Since the plates were located at different orientations on the satellite, their responses to the hypervelocity impacts varied. Crater morphologies range from a series of craters, spall zones, domes, spaces, and rings to simple craters with little or no spall zones. In addition, each of these crater morphologies is associated with varying damage areas, which appear to be related to their respective bay locations and thus exposure angles. More than 5% of the exposed surface area examined was damaged by impact cratering and its coincident effects (i.e., spallation, delamination and blow-off). Thus, results from this analysis may be significant for mission and spacecraft planners and designers.
SPACECRAFT DESIGN, TESTING AND PERFORMANCE
NASA. Langley Research Center, LDEF: 69 Months in Space. Second Post-Retrieval Symposium, Part 2; p 595-618