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Physics of Regolith Impacts in Microgravity Experiment

Completed Technology Project
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Project Description

Physics of Regolith Impacts in Microgravity Experiment
The presence of dust on the surfaces of solar system bodies raises several technical issues related to unmanned and manned exploration of the solar system. Fine grains may damage optical instruments, coat solar panels, or jam moving parts on spacecraft. Particles that enter astronaut habitats can pose a further health hazard through inhalation or contamination of seals or other equipment. Understanding the behavior of fine particles in dusty environments in response to human and robotic activities is crucial to the success of exploration missions to the Moon, Mars, and especially to small bodies such as asteroids with negligible surface gravity. A broad set of experimental data in the reduced-gravity regime in which these collisions occur is necessary to interpret the existing and ever-growing volume of data on dust in planetary systems. More »

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