Skip to main content

Collisional disruption of weakly sintered porous targets at low-impact velocities


Porous structure is common in the asteroids and satellites of the outer planets. In order to study the relationship between the structure of small bodies and their thermal and collisional evolution, we performed impact disruption experiments on porous sintered targets using a light-gas gun at velocities ranging from 10 to 100 m/s. The sintered glass bead targets were prepared to have roughly the same porosity but with different compressive strengths, ranging over an order of magnitude, by controlling sintering duration and temperature. The results of the impact experiments show that the targets of higher compressive strength have higher impact strengths. However, compared to previous results on impact disruption of porous sintered targets with a collisional velocity of approximately 6 km/s, the values of impact strength in this study were found to be lower by an order of magnitude.


  • Britt, D. T., D. Yeomans, K. Housen, and G. Consolmagno, Asteroid density, porosity, and structure, in Asteroids III, edited by W. F. Bottke, Jr. et al., 485 pp., University of Arizona Press, Tucson, 2002.

    Google Scholar 

  • Bottke Jr., W. F., et al., Velocity distributions among colliding asteroids, Icarus, 107, 255–268, 1994.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  • Davis, D. R., et al., Asteroid collisional history: Effects on sizes and spins. in Asteroids II, edited by R. P. Binzel, T. Gehrels, and M. Matthews, pp. 805–826, Univ. of Arizona Press, Tucson, 1989.

    Google Scholar 

  • Davis, D. R. and P. Farinella, Collisional evolution of Edgeworth-Kuiper belt objects, Icarus, 125, 50–60, 1997.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  • Farinella, P. and D. R. Davis, Short-period comets: Primordial bodies or collisional fragments?, Science, 273, 938–941, 1996.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  • Fujiwara, A., G. Kamimoto, and A. Tsukamoto, Destruction of basaltic bodies by high velocity impact, Icarus, 31, 277–288, 1977.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  • Fujiwara, A., P. Cerroni, D. Davis, E. Ryan, and M. Di Martino, Experiments and Scaling laws for catastrophic collisions, in Asteroids II, edited by R. P. Binzel et al., 240 pp., University of Arizona Press, 1989.

    Google Scholar 

  • Fujiwara, A., et al., The rubble-pile asteroid Itokawa as observed by Hayabusa, Science, 312, 1330–1334, 2006.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  • Hartmann, W. K., Planet formation — mechanism of early growth, Icarus, 33, 50–61, 1978.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  • Higa, M., M. Arakawa, and N. Maeno, Size dependence of restitution coefficients of ice in relation to collision strength, Icarus, 133, 310–320, 1998.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  • Holsapple, K., I. Giblin, K. Housen, A. Nakamura, and E. Ryan, Asteroid impacts: laboratory experiments and scaling laws, in Asteroids III, edited by W. F. Bottke, Jr. et al., 443 pp., University of Arizona Press, Tucson, 2002.

    Google Scholar 

  • Love, S. G., F. Hörz, and D. E. Brownlee, Target porosity effects in impact cratering and collisional disruption, Icarus, 105, 216–224, 1993.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  • Matsui, T., T. Waza, K. Kani, and S. Suzuki, Laboratory simulation of planetesimal collisions, J. Geophys. Res., 87, 10,968–10,982, 1982.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  • Michikami, T., K. Moriguchi, S. Hasegawa, and A. Fujiwara, Ejecta velocity distribution for impact cratering experiments on porous and low strength targets, Planet. Space Sci., 2007.

    Google Scholar 

  • Nakamura, A. and A. Fujiwara, Velocity distribution of fragments formed in a simulated collisional disruption, Icarus, 92, 132–146, 1991.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  • Ryan, E. V., D. R. Davis, and I. Giblin, A laboratory impact study of simulated Edgeworth-Kuiper Belt objects, Icarus, 142, 56–62, 1999.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  • Ryshkewitch, E., Compression strength of porous sintered alumina and zirconia, J. Am. Ceram. Soc., 36, 65–68, 1953.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  • Takagi, Y., H. Mizutani, and S.-I. Kawakami, Impact fragmentation experiments of basalts and pyrophyllites, Icarus, 59, 462–477, 1984.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  • Weidenschilling, S. J., D. R. Davis., and F. Marzari., Very early collisional evolution in the asteroid belt, Earth Planets Space, 53, 1093–1097, 2001.

    Article  Google Scholar 

Download references

Author information

Authors and Affiliations


Corresponding author

Correspondence to Masato Setoh.

Rights and permissions

Open Access  This article is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License, which permits use, sharing, adaptation, distribution and reproduction in any medium or format, as long as you give appropriate credit to the original author(s) and the source, provide a link to the Creative Commons licence, and indicate if changes were made.

The images or other third party material in this article are included in the article’s Creative Commons licence, unless indicated otherwise in a credit line to the material. If material is not included in the article’s Creative Commons licence and your intended use is not permitted by statutory regulation or exceeds the permitted use, you will need to obtain permission directly from the copyright holder.

To view a copy of this licence, visit

Reprints and Permissions

About this article

Cite this article

Setoh, M., Nakamura, A.M., Hirata, N. et al. Collisional disruption of weakly sintered porous targets at low-impact velocities. Earth Planet Sp 59, 319–324 (2007).

Download citation

  • Received:

  • Revised:

  • Accepted:

  • Published:

  • Issue Date:

  • DOI:

Key words

  • Porosity
  • impact
  • small body
  • asteroid