Interactions between asteroid fragments during atmospheric entryOPEN ACCESS 

P.J. Register, M.J. Aftosmis, E.C. Stern, J.M. Brock, P.M. Seltner, S. Willems, A. Guelhan, D.L. Mathias

P.M. Seltner, S. Willems, A. Guelhan

In Press, Journal Pre-proof, Available online 24 October 2019




• Asteroid fragment interactions in the atmosphere are represented analytically.
• Fragment interaction model develops physical consistency for fragmentation models.
• Separation velocity of interacting fragments is smaller than previously computed.
• Mechanism is proposed explaining finds of weak meteorites lacking an ablation crust.”

“The current work explores the interactions between asteroid fragments and the associated flow topology to motivate a physically consistent representation of the fragmentation process following a fragmentation event during atmospheric entry. Multibody aerodynamic simulations run with computational fluid dynamics (CFD) solvers were used to generate a lookup table of forces detailing the interactions of two spheres. Trajectory simulations parsing the resulting database to determine the relative motions of any two spherical fragments were then validated with hypersonic wind tunnel experiments. A following series of fragment interaction simulations yielded categorization of the fragments’ final relative states and an estimate of the total time of interaction. The fragment interaction model was nondimensionalized to permit study over a wide range of possible asteroid impacts. The interaction parameters are presented with explicit semi-analytic equations, defining the asteroid fragment-flow interaction model and thereby eliminating the need to perform a separate fragment interaction simulation for each fragmentation event in an atmospheric entry model. Finally, a set of illustrative examples demonstrates the efficacy of the model in a variety of fragmentation situations.”