Hypervelocity impact in low earth orbit: Finding subtle impactor signatures on the Hubble Space Telescope

A. T. Kearsley, J. L. Colaux, D. K. Ross, P. J. Wozniakiewicz, L. Gerlach, P. Anz-Meador, T. Griffin, B. Reed, J. Opiela, V. V. Palitsin, G. W. Grime, R. P. Webb, C. Jeynes, J. Spratt, T. Salge, M. J. Cole, M. C. Price, M. J. Burchell

Research output: Contribution in Book/Catalog/Report/Conference proceedingConference contribution

40 Downloads (Pure)


Return of materials from the Hubble Space Telescope (HST) during shuttle orbiter service missions has allowed inspection of large numbers of hypervelocity impact features from long exposure at about 615 km altitude in low Earth orbit (LEO) [1,2]. Here we describe the application of advanced X-ray microanalysis techniques on scanning electron microscopes (SEM), microprobes and a 2 MV Tandetron, to nearly 400 impacts on the painted metal surface of the Wide Field and Planetary Camera 2 (WFPC2) radiator shield [3,4]. We identified artificial Orbital Debris (OD) and natural Micrometeoroid (MM) origins for small [5] and even for larger particles [6], which usually may leave little or no detectable trace on HST solar arrays, as they penetrate through the full cell thickness [2,7].

Original languageEnglish
Title of host publication14th Hypervelocity Impact Symposium, HVIS 2017
EditorsMark J. Burchell
PublisherElsevier Limited
Number of pages8
ISBN (Electronic)18777058
ISBN (Print)978-151085004-0
Publication statusPublished - 1 Jan 2017
Event14th Hypervelocity Impact Symposium, HVIS 2017 - Canterbury, United Kingdom
Duration: 24 Apr 201728 Apr 2017

Publication series

NameProcedia Engineering
ISSN (Electronic)1877-7058


Conference14th Hypervelocity Impact Symposium, HVIS 2017
Country/TerritoryUnited Kingdom


  • Hubble Space Telescope
  • microanalysis
  • micrometeoroids
  • orbital debris


Dive into the research topics of 'Hypervelocity impact in low earth orbit: Finding subtle impactor signatures on the Hubble Space Telescope'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this