Investigations of Hypervelocity Impact Physics
MetadataShow full item record
Spacecraft and satellites in orbit are under an increasing threat of impact from orbital debris and naturally occurring meteoroids. While objects larger than 10 cm are routinely tracked and avoided, collisions inevitably occur with smaller objects at relative velocities exceeding 10 km/s. Such hypervelocity impacts (HVI) create immense shock pressures and can melt or vaporize aerospace materials, even inducing brief plasmas at higher speeds. Sacrificial shields have been developed to protect critical components from damage under these conditions, but the response of many materials in such an extreme event is still poorly understood. This work presents the summary of computational analysis methods to quantify the relevant physical mechanisms at play in a hypervelocity impact. Strain rate-dependent behavior was investigated using several models, and fluid material descriptions were used to draw parallels under high shear rate loading. The production and expansion of impact plasmas were modeled and compared to experimental evidence. Additionally, a parametric study was performed on a multitude of possible material candidates for sacrificial shield design, and new shielding configurations were proposed. A comparison of material models indicated that the Johnson-Cook and Steinberg-Cochran-Guinan-Lund metallic formulations yielded the most consistent results with the lowest deviation from experimental measures in the strain rate regime of interest. Both meshless Lagrangian and quasi-Eulerian meshed schemes approximated the qualitative and quantitative characteristics of HVI debris clouds with average measurable errors under 5%. While the meshless methods showed better resolution of interfaces and small details, the meshed methods were shown to converge faster under several metrics with fewer regions of spurious instability. Additionally, a new technique was introduced using hypothetical viscous fluids to approximate debris cloud behavior, which showed good correlation to experimental results when such models were constructed using the shear rates seen in hypervelocity impacts. Formulations using non-Newtonian fluids showed additional capability in approximating solid behavior, both quantitatively and qualitatively. Such fluid models are significant, in that they reproduced the qualitative and quantitative characteristics of evolving debris clouds with better fidelity than purely hydrodynamic models using inviscid fluids. This indicates that while inertial effects can dominate overdriven shock phenomena, neglecting shear forces invariably introduces errors; such forces can instead be simplistically approximated via viscous models. The viscous approximation also allowed for a successful scaling analysis using dimensionless Pi terms, which was unfeasible using solid constitutive relations. Attempts to model plasma dynamics saw success in the simulation of a laser ablation-driven flyer plate by using a hot gas with solid initial conditions; similar strategies were used to analyze plasma production in hypervelocity impacts with reasonable correlation to experimental measurements. Lastly, the analysis of bumper material candidates showed that metals with a low density such as beryllium and magnesium yield a higher specific energy and momentum reduction of incident projectiles with lower weight requirements than a similarly constructed bumper using aluminum. Investigations of bumpers using a combination of materials and variations in microstructure showed promise in increasing weight-normalized efficacy. Through these computational models, the parameters which influence damage and debris in hypervelocity impacts are more critically understood.
- Doctoral Dissertations