Study of Iron and Stony Meteorite Ablation Based on Simulation Experiments in an Arc HeaterOPEN ACCESS 

Lei Wanget, Lei Ning Dang, Ling Wei Yang, Jin Bo Liu, Jie Huang, Zhen Jun Huang, Jing Kang Yang, and Yue Luo

The Astrophysical Journal, Volume 962, Number 1


“To observe meteorite ablation, simulation experiments were conducted on the L5 ordinary chondrite and IAB-MG iron meteorites in an arc-heated facility and three flight conditions were reproduced. To mimic the high heating rates and the significant shear stress that meteorites experience during Earth entry, the samples were machined into 9° spherical cones with a 20 mm nose radius. High-quality video, the surface temperature, a time-resolved spectrum, and infrared video were recorded. The atom species were determined via spectroscopy to analyze the ablation products. Due to the electrode erosion and dissociation of air, the atomic lines of copper, nitrogen, and oxygen were detected in all the tests. Although the copper atom is a pollutant to the flow field, the five copper lines were used to determine the flow-field temperature. The ablation rates and effective heat of ablation of both the samples were measured under different conditions. The results indicate that shear stress is the dominant factor influencing meteorite ablation. Furthermore, the diversity between stony and iron meteorites suggests that the mass loss of stony meteorites depends on the fragmentation of the main body and that of iron meteorites depends on the shearing loss of the molten layer. Then, the fusion crusts were analyzed, the microstructures of the samples were obtained, the crust thicknesses were measured, and the elemental distribution of the stony meteorites was determined via energy dispersion spectroscopy. The study results explain the differences in the ablation and recrystallization process between stony and iron meteorites.”