Whole Object Name
Solid Aluminium Hypervelocity Impact Target
Circular aluminium target showing an impact crater from a projectile fired by a hypervelocity gun. Shows how even small specks can cause a lot of damage when they impact with something at high speed. The impact crater is just off-centre and was made by a projectile travelling at 5.5 kilometres a second.
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 solid aluminium is an example of this scientific study.