rating: 0+x

Basic Information

A micrometeoroid is a tiny particle of rock floating in outerspace. They may be isolated chips brocken off some stray impact, or a cloud of space dust. Don't be surprised if any given asteroid belt is full of micrometeoroids with new ones being created every time a couple of the larger rocks smack into each other.

A related term, micrometeorite is the word for such a particle if it survives passing through our atmosphere and hits the Earth.

There are untold numbers of micrometeoroids in the void between worlds, and each one is a space disaster in the making. Designers of spaceships and associated onboard equipment such as spacesuits have to constantly consider the dangers of micro impact. Micrometeoroids are likely to be traveling at speeds expressed in kilometers per second relative to the ship they strike. They may be small, but punching a tiny sudden hole in the pressurized environment of a spacecraft could result in explosive decompression and immediate space exposure. They also pose a threat to space elevators and satellites in high orbits where there's no atmosphere to deflect or burn up the rocks.

Technologies developed specifically to counter micrometeoroid strikes in space include the Thermal Micrometeoroid Garment, and MMOD (MicroMeteoroid and Orbital Debris Protection System).



Game and Story Use

  • Micrometeoroids are a great space disaster to spring on your PCs. There's a booming reverberation followed by warning klaxons. Everyone has to race to put on spacesuits, and then find the tiny problem and get a repair kit to patch it. All the while the clock is ticking, valuable oxygen is being vented and that's probably pushing the ship slightly off course. Parts of the ship become unininhabitable, and there's a looming threat of explosive decompression. A great way to spice up a slow session… and if you time it so the PCs are having to deal with this in the midst of some other delicate maneuver or challenging scene, you can really ratchet up the tension.
  • A cloud of micrometeoroids could be weaponized. They would make a good defensive screen. A naturally-occurring or intentionally placed debris cloud could be the equivalent of a "space wall", or minefield. This could be a static defense, sort of a labyrinth around a spacestation that requires specific navigational instructions to maneuver safely past. Or they could be deployed as an active weapon, stored aboard a ship in a cargo pod and jettisoned/scattered to deter or scuttle any ship following you.
    • The sandcasters in Traveller are essentially this - cannisters of microparticles that are projected against hostile attacks: missiles and other solid attacks suffer repeated impacts and resultant kinetic damage, energy attacks suffer from the bloom and distortion as the beam interacts with the particle haze.
    • Similar defences also appear in various Ian M. Banks works.
    • Presumably people get really upset if you discharge one of these in a busy part of space…
Unless otherwise stated, the content of this page is licensed under Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike 3.0 License