Nanoindenting the Chelyabinsk meteorite to learn about impact deflection effects in asteroidsOPEN ACCESS 

Carles E. Moyano-Cambero, Eva Pellicer, Josep M. Trigo-Rodríguez, Iwan P. Williams, Jürgen Blum, Patrick Michel, Michael Küppers, Marina Martínez-Jiménez, Ivan Lloro, Jordi Sort

Astrophysical Journal (2017)


Update (24 January 2017): LINK

“The Chelyabinsk meteorite is a highly shocked, low porosity, ordinary chondrite, probably similar to S- or Q-type asteroids. Therefore, nanoindentation experiments on this meteorite allow us to obtain key data to understand the physical properties of near-Earth asteroids. Tests at different length scales provide information about the local mechanical properties of the minerals forming this meteorite: reduced Young’s modulus, hardness, elastic recovery, and fracture toughness. Those tests are also useful to understand the potential to deflect threatening asteroids using a kinetic projectile. We found that the differences in mechanical properties between regions of the meteorite, which increase or reduce the efficiency of impacts, are not a result of compositional differences. A low mean particle size, attributed to repetitive shock, can increase hardness, while low porosity promotes a higher momentum multiplication. Momentum multiplication is the ratio between the change in momentum of a target due to an impact, and the momentum of the projectile, and, therefore higher values imply more efficient impacts. In the Chelyabinsk meteorite, the properties of the light-colored lithology materials facilitate obtaining higher momentum multiplication values, compared to the other regions described for this meteorite. Also, we found a low value of fracture toughness in the shock-melt veins of Chelyabinsk, which would promote the ejection of material after an impact and, therefore, increase the momentum multiplication. These results are relevant considering the growing interest in missions to test asteroid deflection, such as the recent collaboration between the European Space Agency and NASA, known as the Asteroid Impact and Deflection Assessment mission.”