Measurement of Ejecta from Normal Incident Hypervelocity Impact on Lunar Regolith Simulant

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Abstract

The National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA) continues to make progress toward long-term lunar habitation. Critical to the design of a lunar habitat is an understanding of the lunar surface environment. A subject for further definition is the lunar impact ejecta environment. The document NASA SP-8013 was developed for the Apollo program and is the latest definition of the ejecta environment. There is concern that NASA SP-8013 may over-estimate the lunar ejecta environment. NASA's Meteoroid Environment Office (MEO) has initiated several tasks to improve the accuracy of our understanding of the lunar surface ejecta environment.

This paper reports the results of experiments on projectile impact into powered pumice targets, simulating unconsolidated lunar regolith. The Ames Vertical Gun Range (AVGR) was used to accelerate spherical Pyrex projectiles of 0.29g to velocities ranging between 2.5 and 5.18 km/s. Impact on the pumice target occurred at normal incidence. The ejected particles were detected by thin aluminum foil targets placed around the pumice target in a 0.5 Torr vacuum. A simplistic technique to characterize the ejected particles was formulated. Improvements to this technique will be discussed for implementation in future tests.

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