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Published April 2018 | Supplemental Material
Journal Article Open

Failures in sand in reduced gravity environments


The strength of granular materials, specifically sand is important for understanding physical phenomena on other celestial bodies. However, relatively few experiments have been conducted to determine the dependence of strength properties on gravity. In this work, we experimentally investigated relative values of strength (the peak friction angle, the residual friction angle, the angle of repose, and the peak dilatancy angle) in Earth, Martian, Lunar, and near-zero gravity. The various angles were captured in a classical passive Earth pressure experiment conducted on board a reduced gravity flight and analyzed using digital image correlation. The data showed essentially no dependence of the peak friction angle on gravity, a decrease in the residual friction angle between Martian and Lunar gravity, no dependence of the angle of repose on gravity, and an increase in the dilation angle between Martian and Lunar gravity. Additionally, multiple flow surfaces were seen in near-zero gravity. These results highlight the importance of understanding strength and deformation mechanisms of granular materials at different levels of gravity.

Additional Information

© 2018 Elsevier Ltd. Received 1 September 2017, Revised 19 December 2017, Accepted 8 January 2018, Available online 12 January 2018. This research was supported in part by the Keck Institute for Space Studies (KISS) at the California Institute of Technology under the program "x-Terramechanics - Integrated Simulation of Planetary Surface Missions". This support is gratefully acknowledged.

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