Volume 642, October 2020
|Number of page(s)||13|
|Section||Planets and planetary systems|
|Published online||20 October 2020|
Regolith behavior under asteroid-level gravity conditions: low-velocity impacts into mm- and cm-sized grain targets
Florida Space Institute, University of Central Florida, 12354 Research Parkway,
Partnership 1 Building, Suite 214,
2 Physics Department, University of Central Florida, 4111 Libra Drive, Orlando, FL 32816, USA
Accepted: 3 August 2020
Context. In situ observations of small asteroids, such as Itokawa, Ryugu, and Bennu, show that surfaces covered by boulders and coarse terrain are frequent on such bodies. Regolith grain sizes have distributions on approximately mm and cm scales, and the behavior of such large grains in the very low-gravity environments of small body surfaces dictates their morphology and evolution.
Aims. In order to support the understanding of natural processes (e.g., the recapturing of impact ejecta) or spacecraft-induced interactions (e.g., the fate of a small lander), we aim to experimentally investigate the response of coarse-grained target surfaces to very-low-speed impacts (below 2 m s−1).
Methods. We present the outcome of 86 low-speed impacts of a cm-sized spherical projectile into a bed of simulated regolith, composed of irregular mm- and cm-sized grains. These impacts were performed under vacuum and microgravity conditions. Our results include measurements for the projectile coefficient of restitution and penetration depth, as well as ejecta production, speed, and mass estimation. As part of our data analysis, we compared our data set with impacts performed in similar conditions with fine grain regolith targets to determine the dependence of our measurements on the target grain size.
Results. We find that impact outcomes include the frequent occurrence of projectile bouncing and tangential rolling on the target surface upon impact. Ejecta is produced for impact speeds higher than about 12 cm s−1, and ejecta speeds scale with the projectile to target the grain size ratio and the impact speed. Ejected mass estimations indicate that ejecta is increasingly difficult to produce for increasing grain sizes. Coefficients of restitution of rebounding projectiles do not display a dependency on the target grain size, unlike their maximum penetration depth, which can be scaled with the projectile to target grain size ratio. Finally, we compare our experimental measurements to spacecraft data and numerical work on Hayabusa 2’s MASCOT landing on the surface of the asteroid Ryugu.
Key words: minor planets, asteroids: general / minor planets, asteroids: individual: Surface interaction / methods: miscellaneous / space vehicles
© ESO 2020
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