GEOFF TOMPKINSON / SCIENCE PHOTO LIBRARY GEOFF TOMPKINSON / SCIENCE PHOTO LIBRARY
Space junk impact crater. Physicist Andrew Griffiths viewing an impact crater under a scanning electron micrograph (SEM). The crater is on a foil sheet which was part of an experiment carried on the Long Duration Exposure Facility (LDEF) satellite. This was launched on 7 April 1984 to monitor the environment in orbit, and was collected in January 1990. During this time, the sheet was exposed to meteoroids and space junk, which impacted and penetrated the sheet. Analysis of the impact sites yields information about the frequency of collisions and the damage they cause. These studies are essential for the design of new and more durable satellites.
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