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Observations of MMOD Impact Damage to the ISSThis paper describes meteoroid and orbital debris (MMOD) damage observations on the International Space Station (ISS). Several hundred MMOD damage sites on ISS have been documented using imagery taken from ISS windows. MMOD damage sites visible from ISS windows are typically larger – approximately 5mm diameter and greater – due to the larger viewer-to-surface distance. Closer inspection of these surfaces by astronauts during spacewalks reveals many smaller features that are typically less distinct. Characterization of these features as MMOD or non- MMOD is difficult, but can be partially accomplished by matching physical characteristics of the damage against typical MMOD impact damage observed on ground-based impact tests. Numerous pieces of space-exposed ISS hardware were returned during space shuttle missions. Subsequent ground inspection of this hardware has also contributed to the database of ISS MMOD impact damage. A handful of orbital replacement units (ORUs) from the ISS active thermal control and electrical power subsystems were swapped out and returned during the Space Shuttle program. In addition, a reusable logistics module was deployed on ISS for a total 59.4 days on 11 shuttle missions between 2001 and 2011 and then brought back in the shuttle payload bay. All of this returned hardware was subjected to detailed post-flight inspections for MMOD damage, and a database with over 1,400 impact records has been collected. A description of the largest observed damage features is provided in the paper. In addition, a discussion of significant MMOD impact sites with operational or design aspects is presented. MMOD impact damage to the following ISS modules/subsystems is described: (1) Solar Arrays, (2) US and Russian windows, (3) Extravehicular Activity (EVA) handrails, (4) Radiators, and (5) Russian Functional Cargo Block (FGB) module.
Document ID
Acquisition Source
Johnson Space Center
Document Type
Conference Paper
Hyde, James L.
(Jacobs Engineering Group Houston, TX, United States)
Christiansen, Eric L.
(NASA Johnson Space Center Houston, TX, United States)
Lear, Dana M.
(NASA Johnson Space Center Houston, TX, United States)
Date Acquired
December 16, 2019
Publication Date
December 9, 2019
Subject Category
Space Sciences (General)
Report/Patent Number
Meeting Information
Meeting: International Orbital Debris Conference
Location: Sugar Land, TX
Country: United States
Start Date: December 9, 2019
End Date: December 12, 2019
Sponsors: NASA Johnson Space Center
Funding Number(s)
Distribution Limits
Public Use Permitted.
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