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'shields to Maximum, Mr. Scott'


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Captain Kirk and Mr. Scott from the original Star Trek series.

Reseachers have been working with NASA on ballistic limit curves that predict whether shielding, such as that protecting a satellite or space station, will be perforated when struck by a projectile of specific size and speed.

Credit: tos.trekcore.com

Texas Advanced Computing Center (TACC) researchers have assisted the U.S. National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA) in the development of ballistic limit curves that predict whether a shield will be perforated when hit by a projectile of a given size and speed.

NASA uses ballistic limit curves in the design and risk analysis of current and future spacecraft. The researchers showed how different characteristics of a hypervelocity collision, such as the speed, impact angle, and size of debris, can affect the depth of the cavity produced in ceramic tile thermal protection systems.

The researchers say the validated simulation methods can be used to estimate impact damage at velocities outside the experimental range.

The simulation methods rely on a hybrid modeling approach that captures both the fragmentation of the projectiles and the shock response of the target.

"We validate our method in the velocity regime where experiments can be performed, then we run simulations at higher velocities, to estimate what we think will happen at higher velocities," says University of Texas at Austin professor Eric Fahrenthold.

The researchers also have used the method to study the impact of projectiles on body armor materials in conjunction with the Office of Naval Research.

From Texas Advanced Computing Center
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