Skip to Main Content
The Debris Resistive Acoustic Grid Orbital Navy Sensor (DRAGONS) is a spacecraft-mounted instrument designed to detect microscopic sized particles in polar and sunsynchronous orbits at 800-900 km which are currently undetectable by ground-based systems. Current orbital debris detection systems are dependent on ground based radars, which only have the capabilities to detect particles with a characteristic size greater than 0.5-1 cm at ranges less than 1000-2000 km . Microscopic orbital debris can travel at relative velocities of 14 km/sec, which have the ability to severely damage subsystems of spacecrafts . DRAGONS will provide quantitative information on microscopic orbital debris by combining two systems for particle detection, an acoustic subsystem as the primary system and a resistive grid subsystem as the secondary system. The acoustic subsystem measures the characteristic waveforms of impacting particles at the surface of the spacecraft. This impact is then verified simultaneously using the resistive grid subsystem, which changes in resistance as resistive lines break due to impacts on the surface of the spacecraft. The goal of the DRAGONS project is to use low power and inexpensive equipment that will update current debris models that have not accounted for these microscopic sized particles.