Skip to main content

Salt grains in hypervelocity impacts in the laboratory: Methods to sample plumes from the ice worlds Enceladus and Europa

Fisher, C.R., Price, Mark C., Burchell, Mark J. (2021) Salt grains in hypervelocity impacts in the laboratory: Methods to sample plumes from the ice worlds Enceladus and Europa. Meteoritics & Planetary Science, 56 (9). pp. 1652-1668. ISSN 1086-9379. (doi:10.1111/maps.13729) (KAR id:90304)

PDF Publisher pdf
Language: English

Click to download this file (1MB) Preview
[thumbnail of maps.13729.pdf]
This file may not be suitable for users of assistive technology.
Request an accessible format
Official URL:


The plumes naturally erupting from the icy satellite Enceladus were sampled by the Cassini spacecraft in high-speed fly-bys, which gave evidence of salt. This raises the question of how salt behaves under high-speed impact, and how it can best be sampled in future missions to such plumes. We present the results of 35 impacts onto aluminum targets by a variety of salts (NaCl, NaHCO3, MgSO4, and MgSO4·7H2O) at speeds from 0.26 to 7.3 km s−1. Using SEM-EDX, identifiable projectile residue was found in craters at all speeds. It was possible to distinguish NaCl and NaHCO3 from each other, and from the magnesium sulfates, but not to separate the hydrous from anhydrous magnesium sulfates. Raman spectroscopy on the magnesium sulfates and NaHCO3 residues failed to find a signal at low impact speeds (<0.5 km s−1) where there was insufficient projectile material deposited at the impact sites. At intermediate speeds (0.5 to 2–3 km s−1), identifiable Raman spectra were found in the impact craters, but not at higher impact speeds, indicating a loss of structure during the high speed impacts. Thus, intact capture of identifiable salt residues on solid metal surfaces requires impact speeds between 0.75 and 2 km s−1.

Item Type: Article
DOI/Identification number: 10.1111/maps.13729
Projects: Planetary Science at the University of Kent
Uncontrolled keywords: Enceladus, salt, plumes, hypervelocity impacts
Subjects: Q Science > QB Astronomy > QB651 Planets, Minor
Divisions: Divisions > Division of Natural Sciences > Physics and Astronomy
Funders: Science and Technology Facilities Council (
Depositing User: Mark Burchell
Date Deposited: 23 Sep 2021 08:39 UTC
Last Modified: 12 Jul 2022 10:42 UTC
Resource URI: (The current URI for this page, for reference purposes)
Burchell, Mark J.:
  • Depositors only (login required):

Total unique views for this document in KAR since July 2020. For more details click on the image.