People Christine Hartzell
postdoctoral fellows

Christine HartzellChristine Hartzell
2012 Postdoctoral Fellow

Computational Modeling of Spacecraft-Regolith Interactions

"To date, the design of exploration vehicles’ means of interacting with
the surfaces of solar system bodies has been based on an experimental understanding of terramechanics. As the targets of future robotic and human exploration
expand to more exotic bodies, such as asteroids with very low surface gravities, it will be necessary to
design spacecraft based on computationally modeled interactions with the surface, since it will be virtually
impossible to create relevant surface environments in a terrestrial laboratory. We propose to create a
numerical ‘sandbox’ where the interaction of a single wheel or shovel with the surface regolith can be
modeled. In a computational simulation, we will be able accurately model the cohesive and electrostatic
interactions of the grains, vary the grain size distribution, include varying levels and directions of surface gravity, and determine the effect these variables on the efficacy of wheels and scoops. Additionally, we will translate spacecraft observations of surface properties into characteristics of the modeled regolith." (May 2012)