DSC_1971Comets and small moons located in the outskirts of the Solar System are covered in a layer of regolith composed of dust and ice. Understanding the response of this regolith to impacts is crucial to the knowledge of the evolution of comets, as well as to future missions that will land on their surfaces.  ICE (Impact into Cryogenic regolith Experiment) addresses the specific question of how the presence of water ice in dust influences the response to impacts. A cm-sized marble is dropped into a cup filled with a mixture of JSC-1 dust (Lunar soil simulant) and water ice. During the drop, a laser illuminates a 2-dimensional sheet of the ejected dust-ice mixture, which gets recorded by a high-speed camera. After the impact, the ejected dust gets collected from a plate surrounding the cup. In this way, the ejecta speed and mass can be measured, and its dependence on the content of ice in the dust, the impact energy and the impactor’s density.

Below is a recording of a Brass 50 cm drop:

Below is a recording of a Teflon 50 cm drop:

Below is a recording of a Glass 50 cm drop: