Whole Object Name
Glass Hypervelocity Impact Target
Circular glass target with an impact crater in the centre. This object demonstrates the damage a micrometeoroid or other piece of space debris could cause. It was created in a simulation with a hypervelocity gun firing a projectile.
In space even small specks of material can cause major damage when travelling at high speed. Micrometeoroids - small pieces of rock or metal, travelling incredibly fast - are common in space. They pose a great risk to spacecraft and satellites, especially those that are designed to operate in space for many years. Bigger pieces of space debris can have catastrophic consequences for astronauts, spacecraft or satellites, as, at such speeds they could puncture materials creating holes.
Scientists study terminal ballistics to experiment with extremely high-speed impacts. Doing this helps to see how different materials and structures cope with being struck by objects at speeds like those that could be experienced in space. This piece of thick glass was used as many spacecraft require windows. Space Shuttle Challenger's window was damaged by space debris on mission STS-7 in 1983, whilst one of the International Space Station's Cupola windows was damaged by a tiny piece of space debris no bigger than a few thousandths of a millimetre across.