Extraterrestrial solid surfaces can be studied in the laboratory on the basis of analog materials. The Astrolab laboratory of the IWF aims at the principal properties of the porous surface material on planets, asteroids and comets. Many physical material properties have an effect on the thermal budget of the mentioned celestial objects. Among them are the thermal conductivity and the gas permeability of the near-surface material, which are decisive for the thermal budget as well as for the surface-atmosphere interaction. The pertinent parameters for these processes are investigated in suitable vacuum chambers under well-controlled conditions. For this activity, it is mandatory that experimental work, theoretical considerations and numerical simulations go hand in hand to provide a complete picture. The comparison with spacecraft observations contributes to a better understanding of the ongoing processes, leading to an improvement of our physical models. These results are relevant for the support of upcoming space missions like JUICE and Comet-Interceptor.

For further information, please contact:
Dr. Günter Kargl