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Symposium 1

Granular Materials in Space Exploration

Co-Chairs: Philip Metzger, Ph.D., University of Central Florida, Orlando, FL; and Juan Agui, Ph.D., NASA Glenn Research Center, Cleveland, OH

This symposium will focus on the science and engineering of granular materials in space exploration. When we visit a planetary body, we land on granular materials, drive on them, dig in them, extract resources from them, build with them, and study them for science. Because granular materials can rearrange on a mesoscopic scale, their emergent behaviors are difficult to predict and are the subject of intensive research by physicists, engineers, geologists, and other disciplines. Research includes experiments, computer modeling, and collection of data from planetary missions. Technologies are being developed to study granular materials on the Moon, Mars, asteroids, and beyond. Sessions in this symposium will focus on lunar regolith and dust, asteroid regolith, soil mechanics, granular flow, rocket exhaust interactions with regolith, and anything that requires or supports our understanding of granular materials in space.

Special Session Topics

  • The Physics of Regolith: Mechanics, Heat, and Volatiles
  • Regolith Simulants
  • Instruments and Methods to Measure Regolith Mechanics
  • Modeling Methods for Regolith
  • Rocket Exhaust Interactions with Regolith
  • Trafficability of Regolith: Designing Rovers to Not Get Stuck

Particulate Processes Under Low Gravity Environments Granular Mechanics

Session Organizers: S. Joseph Antony, Ph.D, FRSC, University of Leeds, UK;  and Otis Walton, Ph.D, Grainflow Dynamics, Inc., Livermore, CA

Low/micro-gravity environments strongly affect the selection of optimal processing, storage, and transport configurations of particulate materials, for example, in the design of the granular sample preparation and distribution systems (SPDS) of spacecrafts used in Lunar and Martian space exploration activities, and later for In-Situ Resource Utilization (ISRU) activities. This special session deals with the fundamental and applied research related to all aspects of processing particulate materials under low/micro-gravity environments including, but not limited to, the following: granular flows, fluidization regimes of particles, links between single-particle scale properties and bulk strength characteristics, working principles of, or replacements for: bins, hoppers, chutes, vibrating sieves, vertical fluidized beds, as well as scaling rules for mechanical or pneumatic conveying, and other solids-handling devices under reduced gravity environments.

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