Non-intrusive measurements of crater growth

Olivier S. Barnouin-Jha, Satoru Yamamoto, Takashi Toriumi, Seiji Sugita, Takafumi Matsui

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

38 Citations (Scopus)


An experimental technique to measure crater growth is presented whereby a high speed video captures profiles of a crater forming after impact obtained using a vertical laser sheet centered on the impact point. Unlike previous so called "quarter-space experiments," where projectiles were launched along a transparent Plexiglas sheet so that growth of half a crater could be viewed, the use of the laser sheet permits viewing changes in crater shape without any physical interference to the cratering process. This technique indicates that for low velocity impacts (< 300  m / s) into 220 μm glass beads that are without cohesion and where the projectile is not disrupted, craters initially grow somewhat proportionally, but that later their depths remain essentially constant while their diameters continue to expand. In addition, these experiments indicate that as the impact velocity increases, the rate of growth and the transient depth to diameter ratio at the end of ejecta excavation decreases. These last two observations are probably due to the large time of penetration of the projectile, which becomes a significant fraction of the time of crater formation. This is contrary to the expectations for the scaling rules, which assumes a point source. Very high curtain angles (>45°) are also seen, and could be due to the low friction angle of the target. Significant crater modification, which is rarely seen in "quarter-space experiments," is also observed and appears to be controlled by the dynamic angle of repose of the target. These latter observations indicate that differences in target friction angles may need to be considered when determining near rim ejecta-mass distributions and large-scale crater modification processes on the planets.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)506-521
Number of pages16
Issue number2
Publication statusPublished - 2007 Jun
Externally publishedYes


  • Cratering
  • Impact processes

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Astronomy and Astrophysics
  • Space and Planetary Science


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