Numerical model for hypervelocity impacts
Space debris is an environmental threat, a concerning safety issue and a cause of important economic loss. One of the main drivers for increasing the amount of space debris are the catastrophic collisions, i.e., those whose fragments are capable of triggering new catastrophic collisions with other space objects. The present project develops a description of such collisions by means of metamodels built from computational particle mechanics, providing a numerical characterization of a space hypervelocity collision.
In general, bibliography shows satisfactory validation studies (most of them in simple test cases) for particle mechanics codes. However, the computer workload requirements when considering not-trivial geometries for the satellite and the impactor are very constraining. Moreover, detailed/complex structural definitions are required as geometry and materials are relevant, which may be the reason why current models misbehave when satellites with larger percentage of composites are involved.
However, the casuistry of the space impacts makes it unfeasible to simulate all the possible collision conditions. They range from imperceptible small objects to large ones generating shockwaves and breaking satellite parts that are far from the impact area. in this study, a macroscopic surrogate mode is fed by the results of the detailed mechanics (so-called microscopic) simulations and the available validation cases. This new catastrophic break-up metamodel provides advantages such as speed and continuity of input domain, with accuracy incrementally improved as new real or simulated cases are included.