AAS Meeting #193 - Austin, Texas, January 1999
Session 96. The Solar System
Display, Saturday, January 9, 1999, 9:20am-4:00pm, Exhibit Hall 1

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[96.07] Electrical Properties of Martian Regolith Simulant Particles

C.I. Calle (Sweet Briar College), H.S. Kim (NASA/Kennedy Space Center)

Hubble Space Telescope observations of Mars from Earth as well as spacecraft measurements from orbit around Mars and from the Martian surface itself have shown that suspended dust is a significant component of the Martian atmosphere. Dust clouds have been observed extending over areas as large as a few million square kilometers. Hubble has also photographed planet-wide dust storms lasting for over one month. These conditions, coupled with the absence of any significant amounts of water in the Martian atmosphere, may create electrostatic potentials that could be hazardous for astronauts and equipment in future missions. The electrical properties of the Martian soil have been determined directly only by radio occultation from spacecraft in orbit about Mars, by earth-based radar, and by microwave radiometry. For the present work, experiments were designed to determine the electrical properties of a Martian regolith simulant prepared from Andesitic rocks by NASA Johnson Space Center that has been shown to be a good spectral analog to the soil in the bright regions of Mars. The volume electrical conductivity of the simulant was measured to be intermediate between that of a good conductor and that of a good insulator. Thus, the simulant particles were expected to exhibit fairly high surface electrostatic charging and polarizability. Experiments to determine polarization and electrostatic charging of the simulant particles under several conditions were conducted.

The author(s) of this abstract have provided an email address for comments about the abstract: calle@sbc.edu

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