Orbital motion of regolith around asteroids

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Abstract

We study the orbital motion of regolith around asteroids, lofted from the surface due to impact cratering events, to understand the displacement of material on the surface and in orbit. The cratering events could be natural such as from meteoroid impacts, or they can be induced from spacecraft activities such as in-situ sample collection. Understanding the dynamics of orbiting regolith is important for future science missions and commercial activities on asteroids. Knowledge about expected particulate environment due to impact ejecta can help mission designers in trajectory planning to avoid interference or damage from orbiting regolith with a spacecraft and/or its instruments. The same study could be exploited in the field of commercial in-situ asteroid mining for sorting material of different sizes and densities by artificially lofting them into an orbit...