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Experimental Impacts into Strength-Layered Targets: Crater Morphology and Morphometry

  • Ebel, J. M.
  • Cintala, M. J.
  • Plescia, J. B.
  • Anderson, J. L. B.
  • Dechant, L. E.
  • Taitano, R. A.
Publication Date
Mar 16, 2020
NASA Technical Reports Server


Impact cratering is a fundamental physical process that has dominated the evolution and modification of nearly every planetary surface in the Solar System. Impact craters serve as a means to probe the subsurface structure of a planetary body and provide hints about target surface properties. By examining small craters on the lunar maria and comparing these to experimental impacts in the laboratory, Oberbeck and Quaide first suggested that crater morphology can be used to estimate the thickness of a regolith layer on top of a more competent unit. Lunar craters show a morphological progression from a simple bowl shape to flat-floored and concentric craters as crater diameter increases for a given regolith thickness. This quantitative relationship is commonly used to estimate regolith thicknesses on the lunar surface and has also been explored via numerical and experimental studies. Here we report on a series of experimental impact craters formed in targets com-posed of a thin layer of loose sand on top of a stronger substrate at the Experimental Impact Laboratory at NASA Johnson Space Center.

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