Coupled laboratory and numerical studies of impacts into planetary regolith

Monday, 15 December 2014
Adrienne Dove1, Yanjie Li2, Jennifer Curtis2 and Joshua E Colwell1, (1)University of Central Florida, Orlando, FL, United States, (2)University of Florida, Gainesville, FL, United States
We present the initial results from coupled experimental and numerical study of the response of particles to low-velocity impacts. In this study, laboratory experiments are used to validate and tune a new DEM capable of handling complex particle shapes for simulation of the behavior of planetary regolith. These studies have fundamental applications to granular material science, as well as broader applications to the response to low-energy impacts of surface layers on other planetary bodies, including planetesimals, asteroids, small moons, and planetary ring particles. Knowledge of the velocities and mass distributions of dust knocked off of planetary surfaces is necessary to understand the evolution of the upper layers of the soil, the plasma environment, and to develop mitigation strategies for transported dust. In addition, the fine particles in the regolith pose an engineering and safety hazard for equipment, experiments, and astronauts working in severe environments. Our laboratory experiments consist of impacting a spherical impactor into a bed of particles and tracking the subsequent mass loss and trajectories of the ejected particles. We begin with spherical particles and then we will expand to elongated rods, flake-like particles, and well-characterized aggregates. Complementary discrete element method (DEM) simulations are validated by these experimental studies; in the DEM simulations, the non-spherical nature of these particles will be described using a glued-sphere approach. An initial comparison between the particle ejection velocities observed in the experiments and simulations for spherical particles is shown in the figure. Discrepancies at low velocities are due to the fact that the trajectories of particles with such low ejection speeds are not observable in this setup. The simulations will then be used to gain physical insight and to evaluate a broader range of scenarios than can be easily explored experimentally, such as conditions similar to those present on lunar or small-body surfaces.