This paper proposes in situ debris measurements in medium/high earth orbit using an onboard spacecraft surface inspection system. The onboard surface inspection system consists of a small high-resolution CCD camera, data handling and communication subsystems. It can be mounted on many spacecraft and survey impacts on the surfaces of the spacecraft. Once it detects a pit on the surface created by micron-sized debris impact, the system takes the high-resolution image, and then sends the image down to a ground station for further analyses. This type of debris measurements would provide a better and more accurate understanding of the present medium/high earth orbital debris environment because we cannot detect small debris from ground-based sensors. Conceptual design and some experiments are performed to verify the feasibility of this system. Results show that the size of an impacting debris can be estimated, but the velocity of the impacting object is difficult to determine.
All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes
- Aerospace Engineering
- Astronomy and Astrophysics
- Atmospheric Science
- Space and Planetary Science
- Earth and Planetary Sciences(all)