Simulants are needed in order to adequately test equipment prior to launch to an actual asteroid. The simulant may need to adequately reproduce the physical characteristics of an asteroid to validate sampling techniques, anchoring methods, or to test hazards such as dust production. A simulant may need to reproduce the appearance and spectrum of an asteroid, in any of several wavelength ranges. It may need to replicate the mineralogy and possibly the volatiles content to test related instrumentation.
Asteroid mining is a new commercial application that begs for appropriate asteroid simulants. Companies such as DSI need to test instrumentation for proximity operations, mineralogical assay, excavation techniques and equipment, volatiles extraction, metals and oxygen production, and hazards (such as dust) mitigation.