Accession Number:



Characterizing Dusty Plasmas Formed by Hypervelocity Impacts Through Experiments and Particle In-Cell (PIC) Simulations

Descriptive Note:

[Technical Report, Final Report]

Corporate Author:

Leland Standford Junior University

Personal Author(s):

Report Date:


Pagination or Media Count:



One component of the space environment that has yet to be fully understood is the plasma that forms when a hypervelocity particle, such as a meteoroid or piece of space debris, impacts a spacecraft. Plasma is generated both from thermal ionization and from pressure ionization and can range from weakly to fully ionized, depending on the particles velocity. Because the plasma density within the impact crater is on the same order of magnitude as the number density of the solid target, this type of matter is called warm dense matter WDM or non-ideal plasma. This plasma can also contain a dust component, which is particularly relevant for the lower-velocity range of hypervelocity impacts. We probed the complex behavior of dusty impact plasma to understand the interaction of radiation with matter and the effect of the space environment on systems and sensors. We developed models to characterize the dusty plasma, and executed an impact experiment at a light-gas gun facility. The primary motivation for this research is to provide significant advances in our knowledge of dusty hypervelocity impact plasmas, which are a key component of the space environment.


Subject Categories:

  • Plasma Physics and Magnetohydrodynamics

Distribution Statement:

[A, Approved For Public Release]