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  • numerical evaluation of the influence of pre-arranged fault lines in the fragmentation of satellites subjected to hypervelocity collisions

    Paper number



    Dr. Giulia Sarego, Italy, University of Padova, CISAS – “G. Colombo” Center of Studies and Activities for Space


    Dr. Matteo Duzzi, Italy, T4i


    Dr. Andrea Valmorbida, Italy, CISAS – “G. Colombo” Center of Studies and Activities for Space, University of Padova


    Dr. Lorenzo Olivieri, Italy, CISAS "G. Colombo" - University of Padova


    Dr. Cinzia Giacomuzzo, Italy, University of Padova, CISAS – “G. Colombo” Center of Studies and Activities for Space,


    Prof. Alessandro Francesconi, Italy, University of Padova - DII/CISAS



    In this paper, the response of satellites with structural fault lines to high-energy collision is studied to evaluate 1) the damage propagation to the entire structure in presence of fault lines and 2) their influence on the overall satellite fragmentation. A numerical tool called ``Collision Simulation Tool'', developed in the framework of ESA contract ``Numerical simulations for spacecraft catastrophic disruption analysis'', led by CISAS-UniPD with Etamax GmbH as subcontractor, has been employed to describe accurate fragment distributions of satellites subjected to hypervelocity impacts.
    The 1U CubeSat impact on a satellite designed in the framework of the H2020 project ReDSHIFT, led by CNR-IFAC with DII-UniPD as one partner, has been performed and the relevant results are discussed. The simulations have involved three satellite models in two configurations each. The target is a 7.42 kg satellite composed of a case and an internal equipment tray on which all the subsystems and the payload are mounted. All the components have been reproduced by macro-elements, while their structural connection have been implemented through ``links''. Three target models have been produced: 1) a ``baseline'' model, made of linked elements with the same geometry of the CAD model; 2) a ``weakened'' model, made of the linked elements of the baseline model, except for the case plates and the equipment tray which are divided into 4 plates and weakly linked, therefore representing the fault lines; 3) a ``weakened-without-links'' model, where the weakened model does not include links. The weakened plates represent the 23\% of the target total mass. The impactor has a mass of 1 kg and a velocity of 7 km/s. The impact energy-to-mass ratio (EMR) is 2911 J/g. The impact is simulated in two scenarios: one where the impactor points at the satellite centre of mass and one where the impactor hits a satellite edge. Results show that for a destructive central impact the fault-lines presence reduces the structure energy absorption, resulting in a higher number of small fragments. For a less-destructive impact, such as a glancing impact, the fault-lines presence inhibits the fracture propagation to the entire satellite. This leads to a localized damaged area, a smaller fragment number and a cumulative distribution containing a small number of trackable fragments (this might be more desirable than a high number of not-trackable cm-size fragments). Since collisions might be expected mostly glancing, fault lines may be effective for mitigating space-debris generation and further investigation is recommended.
    Abstract document


    Manuscript document

    IAC-19,A6,3,9,x52990.pdf (🔒 authorized access only).

    To get the manuscript, please contact IAF Secretariat.