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Macroscopic electric charge separation during hypervelocity impacts: Potential implications for planetary paleomagnetismThe production of transient magnetic fields by hypervelocity meteoroid impact has been proposed to possibly explain the presence of paleomagnetic fields in certain lunar samples as well as across broader areas of the lunar surface. In an effort to understand the lunar magnetic record, continued experiments at the NASA Ames Vertical Gun Range allow characterizing magnetic fields produced by the 5 km/s impacts of 0.32-0.64 cm projectiles over a broad range of impact angles and projectile/target compositions. From such studies, another phenomenon has emerged, macroscopic electric charge separation, that may have importance for the magnetic state of solid-body surfaces. This phenomenon was observed during explosive cratering experiments, but the magnetic consequences of macroscopic electric charge separation (as opposed to plasma production) during explosion and impact cratering have not, to our knowledge, been explored before now. It is straightforward to show that magnetic field production due to this process may scale as a weakly increasing function of impactor kinetic energy, although more work is needed to precisely assess the scaling dependence. The original intent of our experiments was to assess the character of purely electrostatic signals for comparison with inferred electrostatic noise signals acquired by shielded magnetic sensors buried within particulate dolomite targets. The results demonstrated that electrostatic noise does affect the magnetic sensors but only at relatively short distances (less than 4 cm) from the impact point (our magnetic studies are generally performed at distances greater than approximately 5.5 cm). However, to assess models for magnetic field generation during impact, measurements are needed of the magnetic field as close to the impact point as possible; hence, work with an improved magnetic sensor design is in progress. In this paper, we focus on electric charge separation during hypervelocity impacts as a potential transient magnetic field production mechanism in its own right.
Document ID
Document Type
Conference Paper
Crawford, D. A. (Brown Univ. Providence, RI, United States)
Schultz, P. H. (Brown Univ. Providence, RI, United States)
Date Acquired
September 6, 2013
Publication Date
January 1, 1993
Publication Information
Publication: Lunar and Planetary Inst., Twenty-fourth Lunar and Planetary Science Conference. Part 1: A-F
Subject Category
Distribution Limits
Work of the US Gov. Public Use Permitted.

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IDRelationTitle19940007055Analytic PrimarySixth Annual Workshop on Space Operations Applications and Research (SOAR 1992), volume 219940007543Analytic PrimaryTwenty-fourth Lunar and Planetary Science Conference. Part 1: A-F