Development of in-situ micro-debris measurement system

Maki Nakamura, Yukihito Kitazawa, Haruhisa Matsumoto, Osamu Okudaira, Toshiya Hanada, Akira Sakurai, Kunihiro Funakoshi, Tetsuo Yasaka, Sunao Hasegawa, Masanori Kobayashi

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

17 Citations (Scopus)


The in-situ debris environment awareness system has been developed. The objective of the system is to measure small debris (between 100 μm and several cm) in orbit. The orbital distribution and the size distribution of the debris are not well understood. The size distribution is difficult to measure from the ground, although the size distribution is very important for the risk evaluation of the impact of debris on spacecraft. The in-situ measurement of the size distribution is useful for: (1) verification of meteoroid and debris environment models, (2) verification of meteoroid and debris environment evolution models, (3) real time detection of unexpected events, such as explosions and/or collisions on an orbit. This paper reports the development study of the in-situ debris measurement system and shows demonstration experiments and their results to describe the performance of the micro-debris sensor system. The sensor system for monitoring micro-debris with sizes ranging from 100 μm to a few mm must have a large detection area, while the constraints of space deployment require that these systems be low in mass, low in power, robust and have low telemetry requirements. For this reason, we have been developing a simple trans-film sensor. Thin and conductive stripes (copper) are formed with fine pitch (100 μm) on a thin film of nonconductive material (12.5-μm thick polyimide). A hypervelocity micro-particle impact is detected when one or more stripes are severed by perforation of the film. We designed a debris detector specialized for measuring the micro-debris size and collision rate. We then manufactured and calibrated the detector.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)436-448
Number of pages13
JournalAdvances in Space Research
Issue number3
Publication statusPublished - Aug 1 2015

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Aerospace Engineering
  • Astronomy and Astrophysics
  • Geophysics
  • Atmospheric Science
  • Space and Planetary Science
  • Earth and Planetary Sciences(all)


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