Reevaluating how charged particles cause space weathering on airless bodies
In Press, Journal Pre-proof, Available online 14 January 2022
• Space weathering experiments use particle fluxes much higher than those in nature.
• Such fluxes and fluences are known to cause dielectric breakdown in many materials.
• Reevaluating these experiments may improve our understanding of space weathering.”
“Many experiments have attempted to simulate how charged particles cause space weathering on airless bodies throughout the Solar System. Researchers have typically applied these experimental results by assuming that high laboratory fluxes cause the same effects as do the significantly lower fluxes found in nature. New work, however, shows that this assumption may often be invalid. In particular, experiments using charged particle fluences cm−2 without adequate steps to neutralize the targets risk causing dielectric breakdown, or “sparking”—a process that may affect some airless bodies. Consequently, it is critical to understand the laboratory conditions under which breakdown occurs, both to ensure that experiments properly simulate the effects of charged particles and to study the possibility that dielectric breakdown can, in some locations, contribute to space weathering.”