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Characterizing the Impact Ejecta Dynamics of LCROSS’ Centaur Upper Stage through Axisymmetric iSALE-2D Simulations

Presentation #119.06 in the session Moon & Earth (Poster + Lightning Talk)

Published onOct 23, 2023
Characterizing the Impact Ejecta Dynamics of LCROSS’ Centaur Upper Stage through Axisymmetric iSALE-2D Simulations

We investigate the influence that enhancing the geometric fidelity of the Centaur model has on ejecta launch distributions using iSALE. Simulations with existing computational models representing the LCROSS Centaur impact [1-3] disagreed with Shepherding Spacecraft (S-S/C) NSP-2 dust column density observations 220-230s after impact [4], necessitating a more realistic approach in our modeling [5, 6]. We consider six iSALE scenarios on iSALE without complicating the geometric model of the relatively simple impactor based on the Centaur mass of ~2,300 kg [7, 8]. The first two scenarios include the impact of a single and double stacked spherical shell, and the last four involve the RL-10 engine, represented as a small solid sphere (~190 kg), for simulating impactor orientation (0° and 180°). We assume shell thickness equals that of Centaur (~0.5 mm). We input ejecta debris launch distributions of velocity and angle as a function of particle mass, using them as inputs in our Monte Carlo code to generate column density profiles of dust and water ice over time for further analysis. Our objective is to identify combinations of impactor geometry, orientation, and target layering in our simulations that best match the data seen by the S-S/C NSP-2 instrument [9-12].

Acknowledgments: This research is funded by NASA grant 80NSSC20M0061. We thank the Texas Advanced Computing Center (TACC) for computing resources.


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[2] Strycker, P. D. et al. (2013) Nature communications, 4(1), 2620.

[3] Luchsinger, K. M. et al. (2021) Icarus, 354, 114089.

[4] Jo, W. et al. (2022) LPI Contributions, 2703, 5010.

[5] Owen, J. M. et al. (2022) PSJ, 3(9), 218.

[6] Raducan, S. D. et al. (2022) International Journal of Impact Engineering, 162, 104147.

[7] Rudman T. J. and Austad K. L. (2002) 4th International Conference on Launcher Technology

[8] Strong, J. et al. (2010) AIAA SpaceOps 2010 Conference, 2197.

[9] Colaprete, A. et al. (2010) Science, 330(6003), 463-468.

[10] Colaprete, A. et al. (2015) Annual Meeting of the Lunar Exploration Analysis Group, 1863, 2051.

[11] Heldmann, J. L. et al. (2015) Icarus, 254, 262-275.

[12] Poondla, Y. et al. (2020) Icarus, 343, 113626.

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