Cratering of icy targets by different impactors: Laboratory experiments and implications for cratering in the Solar System

Burchell MJ, Leliwa-Kopystyński J, Arakawa A.


179(1), 2005, 274-288, 10.1016/j.icarus.2005.06.010

Studies of impacts (impactor velocity about 5 km s−1) on icy targets were performed. The prime goal was to study the response of solid CO2 targets to impacts and to find the differences between the results of impacts on CO2 targets with those on H2O ice targets. The crater dimensions in CO2 ice were found to scale with impact energy, with little dependence on projectile density (which ranged from nylon to copper, i.e., 1150–8930 kg m−3). At equal temperatures, craters in CO2 ice were the same diameter as those in water ice, but were shallower and smaller in volume. In addition, the shape of the radial profiles of the craters was found to depend strongly on the type of ice and to change with impact energy. The impact speed of the data is comparable to that for impacts on many types of icy bodies in the outer Solar System (e.g., the satellites of the giant planets, the cometary nuclei and the Kuiper Belt objects), but the size and thus energy of the impactors is lower. Scaling with impact energy is demonstrated for the impacts on CO2 ice. The issue of impact disruption (rather than cratering) is discussed by analogy with that on water ice. Expressions for the critical energy density for the onset of disruption rather than cratering are established for water ice as a function of porosity and silicate content. Although the critical energy density for disruption of CO2 ice is not established, it is argued that the critical energy to disrupt a CO2 ice body will be greater than that for a (non-porous) water ice body of the similar mass.