Unraveling the Fate of Impacted Ice Particles and the Consequences for Plume Fly-Through Missions

Valerie Scott, Hao Jiang, Bo Li, Sally E. Burke, Morgan E.C. Miller, Robert E. Continetti, Amy E. Hofmann

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Planetary exploration mission concepts that include flying directly through material for collection and/or analysis are becoming increasingly common, with Enceladus water ice particles offering a particularly high-value target. Despite this interest, understanding and predicting what happens to ice samples upon impacting a surface at the high- and hyper-velocities expected for these missions remains a critical knowledge gap. We describe a set of custom simulations using the Hot Optimal Transportation Meshfree method that was implemented to better understand ice impacts. We then compare the simulations with relevant experimental results from the Aerosol Impact Spectrometer. These simulations and experiments illustrate the complex relationship between different energy dissipation mechanisms and how they affect the fate of the particle. These results highlight the importance of understanding the implications of this complex physics on successful sample collection and transfer in order to achieve the scientific goals of the mission.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article numbere2023JE007830
JournalJournal of Geophysical Research: Planets
Issue number12
StatePublished - Dec 2023
Externally publishedYes


  • Enceladus
  • ice impact
  • plume mission

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Geophysics
  • Geochemistry and Petrology
  • Earth and Planetary Sciences (miscellaneous)
  • Space and Planetary Science


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