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Fundamental Studies Of Cratering And Ejecta Dispersal On Planetary Bodies

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NASAPasadena, CA
  • Our current emphasis is cratering when landing on Mars or on the Moon. Experience with fluid dynamics modeling, LES coding and supercomputing is required; a solid background on Kinetic Theory and on multi-phase flows is desirable.
  • We performed three-dimensional Large Eddy Simulations (LESs) coupled with the granular flow equations and the results qualitatively reproduced crater photographs taken by the Mars Space Laboratory during landing on Mars [2]; we also explored cratering when potentially landing on Titan [3].
  • Thus, elucidating the parameters controlling cratering and ejecta has high priority for NASA. As of now, JPL is one of the members of a team studying this topic for the forthcoming NASA Artemis mission under a Grand Challenge program which focuses on developing models and conducting simulations addressing this topic.
  • In some applications, the particles may damage the coating of the lander antenna thereby changing the thermal properties of the antenna, thus impeding transmission of information from the lander to Earth.
  • As reported by astronauts Conrad in Apollo 12 and Scott in Apollo 15 when landing, the lunar regolith rose to an altitude as high as 100 m and 50 m, respectively.
  • Our current research [1-4] uses fundamental concepts from fluid mechanics, Kinetic Theory, granular flow, transport-property theory, and rarefied-gas dynamics to construct a model describing the complex interaction between plume and soil.
  • The plume deforms the soil and forms one or multiple craters; in this process particles from the soil acquire momentum and become dispersed.
  • During precision landing on a planetary body, supersonic plumes from positioning rockets impact the soil or regolith of the planetary body.

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