Single Microparticle Launching Method Using Two-Stage Light-Gas Gun for Simulating Hypervelocity Impacts of Micrometeoroids and Space Debris

Rev Sci Instrum. 2010 Nov;81(11):115105. doi: 10.1063/1.3498896.


A single microparticle launching method is described to simulate the hypervelocity impacts of micrometeoroids and microdebris on space structures at the Institute of Space and Astronautical Science, Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency. A microparticle placed in a sabot with slits is accelerated using a rifled two-stage light-gas gun. The centrifugal force provided by the rifling in the launch tube separates the sabot. The sabot-separation distance and the impact-point deviation are strongly affected by the combination of the sabot diameter and the bore diameter, and by the projectile diameter. Using this method, spherical projectiles of 1.0-0.1 mm diameter were launched at up to 7 km/s.