An experimental study of low-velocity impacts into granular material in reduced gravity

Abstract : In order to improve our understanding of landing on small bodies and of asteroid evolution, we use our novel drop tower facility \citep{sunday2016} to perform low-velocity (2 - 40 cm/s), shallow impact experiments of a 10 cm diameter aluminum sphere into quartz sand in low effective gravities (~0.2 - 1 m/s^2). Using in-situ accelerometers we measure the acceleration profile during the impacts and determine the peak accelerations, collision durations and maximum penetration depth. We find that the penetration depth scales linearly with the collision velocity but is independent of the effective gravity for the experimental range tested, and that the collision duration is independent of both the effective gravity and the collision velocity. No rebounds are observed in any of the experiments. Our low-gravity experimental results indicate that the transition from the quasi-static regime to the inertial regime occurs for impact energies two orders of magnitude smaller than in similar impact experiments under terrestrial gravity. The lower energy regime change may be due to the increased hydrodynamic drag of the surface material in our experiments, but may also support the notion that the quasi-static regime reduces as the effective gravity becomes lower.
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Naomi Murdoch, Iris Avila Martinez, Cecily Sunday, Emmanuel Zenou, Olivier Cherrier, et al.. An experimental study of low-velocity impacts into granular material in reduced gravity. Monthly Notices of the Royal Astronomical Society, Oxford University Press (OUP): Policy P - Oxford Open Option A, 2017, vol. 468 (n° 2), pp. 1259-1272. ⟨10.1093/mnras/stw3391⟩. ⟨hal-01514901⟩

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