Micrometeoroid/Debris Photo Survey of Mir

Objectives

The objectives for the Mir Photo/Video Survey were: (1) to gather data on long-term aging effects from the space environment on the orbital hardware, (2) to verify on-orbit configuration, (3) to perform assessments of approaches and docking, (4) to perform visual assessments of plume impingement/interactions, (5) to measure load-induced solar array motion, and (6) to acquire detailed imagery of external payloads.

Shuttle-Mir Missions
STS-63, STS-74, STS-76, STS-79, STS-81, STS-84, STS-86, STS-89, STS-91

Approach
A detailed photographic and video survey of the Mir Space Station was made from the Space Shuttle during approach, station keeping, docking, back-away, and fly-around. For the handheld photography, a Nikon F4 35 mm camera, a 70 mm Hasselblad and an electronic still camera were used. Only the 70 mm and 35 mm cameras had sufficient resolution to identify small impact features.

Results
This experiment provided information that included a Spektr module damage assessment, a measurement of thermally-induced array motion during day/night passes, as well as identification of additional aging/temporal effects on the Mir Space Station.

Earth Benefits
As the global community begins to rely more heavily on digital and electronic communications, Earth-orbiting structures like communications satellites have become increasingly important. These satellites provide pager, telephone, television, military intelligence, and news service around the world. Because of the great expense involved in placing such satellites in orbit, longevity is a necessity. In order to achieve such longevity, ways to enhance the external structure of satellites need to be developed.

By researching the types of particles, as well as the size, placement, and velocity of the particles that have encountered the Space Station Mir, it appears possible to identify ways to protect such objects against hypervelocity impacts in LEO. This includes laboratory studies to simulate impacts on new materials being considered for both the external structures of the International Space Station and new satellites. Second, it will be possible to verify previous mathematical models on the behavior and production of particles in the space environment. With such information at hand, new, more durable materials can be developed that will help protect spacecraft from possible catastrophic impacts, saving money, as well as lives.

Publications
Gaunce, M.T., et al. Assessment of Mir Orbital Station External Condition Using Space Shuttle Photographic and Video Imagery; Presented at First Phase 1 Research Symmposium, NASA Johnson Space Center, August 5-7 1997.

Gaunce, M.T., et al. Assessment of Mir Orbital Station External Condition Using Space Shuttle Photographic and Video Imagery; Presented at Second Phase 1 Research Symmposium, NASA AMES Research Center, March 31-April 2 1998.

Mir Photo Survey (DTO-1118): STS-63, JSC-27246, Earth Science and Solar System Exploration Division, NASA Johnson Space Center, Houston, TX, 28 August 1995.

Mir Photo Survey (DTO-1118): STS-71, JSC-27355, Earth Science and Solar System Exploration Division, NASA Johnson Space Center, Houston, TX, 16 January 1996.

Mir Photo Survey (DTO-1118): STS-74, JSC-27649, Earth Science and Solar System Exploration Division, NASA Johnson Space Center, Houston, TX, 20 November 1996.

Mir Photo Survey (DTO-1118): STS-76, JSC-27525, Earth Science and Solar System Exploration Division, NASA Johnson Space Center, Houston, TX, 30 July 1996.

Mir Photo Survey (DTO-1118): STS-79, JSC-27761, Earth Science and Solar System Exploration Division, NASA Johnson Space Center, Houston, TX, 28 March 1997.

Principal Investigators
Mike Gaunce
NASA/Johnson Space Center

S. Naumov

Co-Investigators
Gregory Byrne

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Page last updated: 07/16/1999

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