Deep Regolith Cratering and Plume Effects Modeling for Lunar Landing Sites

Document Type

Conference Proceeding

Publication Date



Department of Mechanical Engineering-Engineering Mechanics


Plume generation from descent rockets impinges on the lunar landing site regolith, rendering sites hazardous for landing due to possible deep cratering and interference from ejecta. Masten Space Systems and University of Central Florida are studying regolith cratering effects in different plume environments to understand cratering and landing pad durability. Testing is characterizing lunar surface ejecta particles (size, velocities, trajectories, and other geotechnical characteristics) during rocket powered landings and ascents and determining the rate and duration of mass ejection from cratering. Preliminary drop tower and rocket engine tests show scalable results. Data demonstrate the importance of developing methods to mitigate the effects of cratering and ejecta to enable a sustainable lunar presence. Different sizes of landers are also being investigated.

Publication Title

Earth and Space 2021