EUROPEAN SPACE AGENCY / S. LAAGLAND / SCIENCE PHOTO LIBRARY EUROPEAN SPACE AGENCY / S. LAAGLAND / SCIENCE PHOTO LIBRARY
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Space debris shielding test. Close-up of a bullet impact produced during testing of a spacecraft shielding panel. A 7.5-millimetre-diameter aluminium bullet was shot with a high-performance light-gas gun at 7 kilometres per second at this 'stuffed Whipple shield exterior'. The shield consists of multilayer insulation and a 1 millimetre-thick aluminium 'bumper shield' layer. Space debris is a constant hazard to spacecraft and satellites. Even a small object can cause a great deal of damage at the high speeds of Earth orbits. This design is used to shield the Automated Transfer Vehicle and manned modules in the International Space Station (ISS). Testing was carried out for the European Space Agency (ESA)'s Space Environment and Effects section at the Fraunhofer Institute for High-Speed Dynamics, Ernst-Mach-Institut (EMI), Freiburg, Germany. Photographed in 2014.
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