Measuring the Fidelity of Asteroid Regolith and Cobble Simulants

Philip T.Metzger, Daniel T.Britt, StephenCovey, CodySchultz, Kevin M.Cannon, Kevin D.Grossman, James G.Mantovani, Robert P.Mueller




• Extraterrestrial simulants are often used inappropriately
• NASA developed a “Figure of Merit” system to help end the misuse
• We extend this system to asteroid regolith and cobble simulants
• It grades composition, density, strength, magnetic susceptibility, and volatiles
• We recommend this methodology to the wider asteroid community”

“NASA has developed a “Figure of Merit” method to grade the fidelity of lunar simulants for scientific and engineering purposes. Here we extend the method to grade asteroid simulants, both regolith and cobble variety, and we apply the method to the newly developed asteroid regolith and cobble simulant UCF/DSI-CI-2. The reference material that is used to evaluate this simulant for most asteroid properties is the Orgueil meteorite. Those properties are the mineralogical and elemental composition, grain density, bulk density of cobbles, magnetic susceptibility, mechanical strength of cobbles, and volatile release patterns. To evaluate the regolith simulant’s particle sizing we use a reference model that was based upon the sample returned from Itokawa by Hayabusa, the boulder count on Hayabusa, and four cases of disrupted asteroids that indicate particle sizing of the subsurface material. Compared to these references, the simulant has high figures of merit, indicating it is a good choice for a wide range of scientific and engineering applications. We recommend this methodology to the wider asteroid community and in the near future will apply it to additional asteroid simulants currently under development.”