Employees of the Research Institute of Applied Mathematics and Mechanics, along with scientists of Faculty of Physics and Engineering, have begun to study the interaction of spacecraft with small fragments of meteors and space debris. The data obtained in the course of theoretical and experimental studies will be the basis of new methods to protect satellites.
- At the moment, in Earth orbit there are a huge number of manmade fragments of various sizes formed by destruction in the last stages of carrier rockets, boost blocks, and other space vehicles and devices, - says Alexander Gerasimov, head of the Department of Deformable Solid Mechanics of the Research Institute of Applied Mathematics and Mechanics. - Each of these objects represents a serious threat to the security of automatic and piloted space vehicles.
Meteor particles of natural origin coming from outer space are no less threatening. An object with a diameter of one centimeter, flying at a speed of 8 kilometers per second, is capable of destroying the surface of any satellite and incapacitating its systems and equipment. The amount of space debris is increasing annually by several thousand units, so the need for new methods of shockproof protection of objects is extremely great.
One way is to install a screen, on impact with which an attacker object would be destroyed, followed by lateral expansion of the fragments. In order for this scheme to work effectively, it is necessary to take into account many aspects, first of all features of the behavior of a material in contact with the high-speed strikers.
A group of TSU scientists will produce calculations that will help increase the efficiency of the protective structure to increase its strength while maintaining low weight of the screen. In the prospects for its production is considered the use of functionally graded materials consisting of hard grains of carbides, nitrides, particles, and compounds of different metals. Their concentrations in the layers of the alloy are different, ensuring the material high hardness and greater impact strength. Through numerical modeling, researchers will select the optimum schemes for protective screens.
Scientists of the Research Institute of Applied Mathematics and Mechanics have accumulated extensive experience in conducting such research. In the recent past they have developed the protection for several spacecraft, including the research satellite Spectrum-UF, which is scheduled to launch in 2017-2018.