University of Arkansas, Fayetteville


"Ponds" are surface features that appear to be the result of the deposition of finer material on the asteroid's regolith, the layer of loose sediment that blankets the entire asteroid. Ponds were discovered by the NEAR Shoemaker spacecraft in January, 2001, on the asteroid 433 Eros. The objective of experimentation is to simulate the development of these ponds in the Andromeda planetary sciences environmental chamber. The Andromeda Chamber offers a unique ability to simulate surface environments that occur on Eros. The chamber was used to simulate the processes that occur as Eros emits gas through its outer surface, including the process of fluidization in which the loose soil takes on the properties of a fluid. This was accomplished by placing sand with a large particle size distribution in the chamber and analyzing the processes that occur as nitrogen is forced up through the surface. The amount of gas that is emitted, the rate at which it is emitted, and the depth of the soil stimulant the gas is passed through were varied. Particle size sorting and subsequent pond formations exhibited a strong, exponential dependence on flow rate of a gas, as well as a linear dependence on the depth of the gas source.