Dr. Adrienne Dove
The frost line in a planetary system represents the distance from the central star inside of which conditions are too warm for ice to form, while beyond this line it will be stable. When an icy object passes that line heading toward the Sun it will begin to sublimate and outgas, potentially causing mass loss and surface changes. One example is surface failures, which can lead to material being removed from the object. Evidence of this has been seen on cometary surfaces, where surfaces often show structures that appear to have suffered various mechanical failures like cracking and landslides. By mixing water ice with sand and using a vacuum chamber to simulate the vacuum conditions of space, we monitored what happened as sublimation caused an evolution of the ice-sand mixture. Failures in the sample were observed from the top and the side by watching time-lapse videos of over 24 hour period created during the experiment run. We observed that the samples with more total material tended to show more activity and that samples with higher water concentrations continued to show “Erosion” features for a longer period of time. Additionally, these higher water concentration samples showed larger failure features later in the runs, when the sample strength was much lower. While these were proof-of-concept experiments, the dependencies and observational notes may be applied to the interpretation of observations of comets in the Solar System.
Cox, Christopher; Weinberg, Madison; and Joseph, Trisha
"The Effects of Water Ice Sublimation on Slope Failures of Icy Regolith,"
The Pegasus Review: UCF Undergraduate Research Journal: Vol. 14:
1, Article 2.
Available at: https://stars.library.ucf.edu/urj/vol14/iss1/2