hypervelocity impact

Damage on a Hubble Space Telescope solar array.

Damage on a Hubble Space Telescope solar array caused by a hypervelocity impact with a micrometeroid. The crater is 3.5 millimeters wide and the hole size is 0.5 millimeters.

A hypervelocity impact is a collision of an object into a surface at a speed of at least 1 to 2 kilometers per second, which results in the impact rock behaving like a fluid. Hypervelocity impacts result in craters that are generally circular, as the crater is typically much larger than the impacting body.


High-speed impacts, from man-made or natural objects, are also a threat to spacecraft. Typical impact velocities encountered by orbiting spacecraft are 10 kilometers per second for space debris and 20 kilometers per second for meteoroids. When an object hits a spacecraft at high speed, the result depends mainly on what is hit, and on the relative size of target and the impactor.