Simulations of Hypervelocity Impacts
Hydrocodes are sophisticated computer programs used to run simulations of hypervelocity impact events. In the lab we can obtain velocities up to 7 or 8 km/s, and with some other launch technologies, we can approach 13 km/s. But on orbit, we may see velocities well in excess of what we can produce in the lab. Hydrocodes are used to investigate impacts beyond the testable regime. Hydrocodes are also used as a visualization tool, to help us better understand the physics that occur during an impact.
In general, hydrocodes provide us with information that we cannot get from an actual test. Here are more specifics on how we use these important tools to design better meteoroid and debris shields for spacecraft.
Take a look at some of the cool simulations we have produced using hydrocodes in Quicktime movie format. For more information about QuickTime visit the Apple web site to download the free software for Windows PCs or Macs.