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Accurate and reliable modelling of debris exposure by hypervelocity is a challenging task. SFI CASA’s new doctoral student Rannveig Marie Færgestad will spend the following years working on models crucial to ensure safety and sustainability in space.

Female researcher in ballistic lab

Name:  Rannveig Marie Færgestad
Age: 26
Background: MSc Mechanical Engineering in June 2021. Thesis conducted at SIMLab on the topic of modelling hypervelocity impacts.

Could you give a short description of your PhD- project? The PhD is a continuation of my MSc thesis, modelling hypervelocity impacts for spacecraft protection. Low Earth orbit is full of space debris, posing a significant threat to current and future space missions. Accurate and reliable modelling of debris impacts at hypervelocity is crucial to ensure safety and sustainability in space.

What is the goal? The goal is to improve and develop numerical methods and models of hypervelocity impact to increase reliability and versatility.

Who particularly needs this knowledge? The research is valuable for space agencies and companies when designing and developing shielding for space stations, satellites and crew capsules. Hypervelocity impact experiments are expensive and require specialised equipment. In laboratory settings, we cannot reach all relevant combinations of impactor mass and velocity.  This fact makes numerical simulations essential when designing debris shields. Every kg launched to space is expensive, so creating a design that minimises weight and volume while ensuring the safety of the mission is key.

Rannveig Marie Færgestad´s passion for space technology is not a new one. Here she was at European Space Camp in 2013. Here she holds old solar panels from the Hubble Space Telescope, full of small craters from hypervelocity impacts.

Why did you choose a doctorate in SFI CASA? I had the opportunity to get to know CASA through a summer internship and my MSc thesis work and got a great impression of the research quality, the staff and the culture. The chance to do a PhD with SIMLab/CASA and international partners in the space industry is very motivating. 

How would you describe yourself – in keyword form? As a space and dog enthusiast. And passionate about proving you can do a PhD and have gorgeous hair at the same time.

Rannveig Marie Færgestad´s supervisors are Professor Tore Børvik at SIMLab,  Dr Jens Kristian Holmen, Kevin A. Ford (NASA) and Tiziana Cardone (ESA).

READ MORE: Her Research can Make Space a Safer Place