Scaling behavior of cohesive self-gravitating aggregates

  • Emilien Azéma, Paul Sánchez, Daniel J. Scheeres
  • September 2018, American Physical Society (APS)
  • DOI: 10.1103/physreve.98.030901

Relationship between particle size, cohesive forces and asteroid strength

What is it about?

We simulated asteroids as self-gravitating aggregates formed by thousands of spherical particles. Then, these aggregates were squeezed from opposite sides which gave us a measure of their strength. We then related this measured strength to the aggregate size, particle size and particle-particle cohesive forces.

Why is it important?

In the asteroid environment, with just a tiny fraction of the gravity of Earth, cohesive forces between small pebbles and dust control the overall asteroid strength. However, a clear relationship between the material parameters of the grains forming the asteroids and asteroid strength has not yet been established. This work is the first step towards that.


Dr Diego P Sánchez Lana
University of Colorado Boulder

There are a few steps that should be taken: 1. use non-spherical particles, 2. calculate, instead of, imposing a gravitational field and, 3. subject the simulated aggregates to the kind of stresses to which asteroids are subjected in space (high spin rates and gravitational tides). This will allow us to acquire a more realistic understanding of asteroids and form a theoretical framework for their study. On the engineering side, this knowledge will provide engineering teams in different space agencies with the needed knowledge for different space missions that have to interact with planetary bodies with reduced gravity.

Read Publication

The following have contributed to this page: Dr Diego P Sánchez Lana