Cratering Studies in Thin Plastic Films

Monday, 15 December 2014
Anthony J Shu1, Sebastian Bugiel2, Eberhard Gruen3, Mihaly Horanyi1, Tobin L Munsat4 and Ralf Srama2, (1)University of Colorado at Boulder, Physics, Boulder, CO, United States, (2)University of Stuttgart, Stuttgart, Germany, (3)Laboratory for Atmospheric and Space Physics, Boulder, CO, United States, (4)University of Colorado, Boulder, CO, United States
Thin plastic films, such as Polyvinylidene Fluoride (PVDF), have been used as protective coatings or dust detectors on a number of missions including the Dust Counter and Mass Analyzer (DUCMA) instrument on Vega 1 and 2, the High Rate Detector (HRD) on the Cassini Mission, and the Student Dust Counter (SDC) on New Horizons. These types of detectors can be used on the lunar surface or in lunar orbit to detect dust grain size distributions and velocities. Due to their low power requirements and light weight, large surface area detectors can be built for observing low dust fluxes. The SDC dust detector is made up of a permanently polarized layer of PVDF coated on both sides with a thin layer (≈ 1000 Å) of aluminum nickel. The operation principle is that a micrometeorite impact removes a portion of the metal surface layer exposing the permanently polarized PVDF underneath. This causes a local potential near the crater changing the surface charge of the metal layer. The dimensions and shape of the crater determine the strength of the potential and thus the signal generated by the PVDF. The theoretical basis for signal interpretation uses a crater diameter scaling law which was not intended for use with PVDF. In this work, a crater size scaling law has been experimentally determined, and further simulation work is being done to enhance our understanding of the mechanisms of crater formation. LS-Dyna, a smoothed particle hydrodynamics (SPH) code from the Livermore Software Technology Corp. was chosen to simulate micrometeorite impacts. It is capable of incorporating key physics phenomena, including fracture, heat transfer, melting, etc. Furthermore, unlike Eulerian methods, SPH is gridless allowing large deformities without the inclusion of unphysical erosion algorithms. Material properties are accounted for using the Grüneisen Equation of State. The results of the SPH model can then be fed into electrostatic relaxation models to enhance the fidelity of interpretation of charge signals from a PVDF detector. An electrostatic relaxation code was also used to determine the theoretical charge produced by the PVDF detector given a crater of specific depth and diameter. Experimental results and preliminary simulation results and conclusions will be presented.