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    Space and planetary sciences

    Laboratory Experiments on Aggregation of Particles in a Granular Stream

    Nagaashi Y, Omura T, Kiuchi M, Nakamura A M, Wada K, Hasegawa S

    Regolith, Granular stream, Cohesion, Agglomerate

    Effects of adhesion and shape of particle on agglomerate formation in granular streams. Inset: Scanning electron microscopy images of each particle (a) 50 μm glass beads, (b) 100 μm glass beads, (c) alumina particles, and (d) silica sand grains. Scale bar is 100 μm.

    Inelastic collisions occur among regolith particles, such as those in the ejecta curtain from a crater, and may cause clustering or agglomeration of particles and thus produce discrete patterns of ejecta deposits around a crater. Previous studies have shown that clusters, and even agglomerates, are formed via mutual, inelastic collisions of spherical particles due to adhering forces between particles in granular streams. To investigate the condition of agglomerate formation in granular streams, we conducted laboratory experiments of granular streams using both spherical and irregular, non-spherical particles. Measurements of particle adhesion in this study were performed using a centrifugal separation method, in contrast to the previous study in which atomic force microscopy (AFM) was used. This enabled simultaneous measurements of multiple particles of various shapes for a statistical analysis of the results. With similar relative velocities and adhesion values, irregular particles were found to form agglomerates much more easily than spherical particles. The axial ratio of the agglomerates of spherical particles and irregular particles was similar and was in accordance with those observed in previous laboratory studies, whereas the size of the agglomerates of irregular particles was larger than the size of spherical particles. The degree of agglomeration and the size of agglomerates can be used as an indicator of the shape or adhesive force of the particles in granular stream. Our findings on agglomeration in granular streams could provide new insights into the origin of rays on airless bodies and grooves on Phobos.