Demonstration of comet sample collection by penetrator

Ralph D. Lorenz, William V. Boynton, Carl Turner

Research output: Contribution to journalConference articlepeer-review

5 Scopus citations


We describe laboratory tests to investigate and demonstrate the acquisition and encapsulation of a subsurface sample from a comet analogue using a coring penetrator. The penetrator imbeds itself in the target, coring out a sample during the impact itself. Mechanisms seal the sample in a canister and the canister is spring-ejected from the rear of the penetrator where it can be retrieved in free-flight by a mother spacecraft, which thus need not perform a landing. We describe the penetrator vehicle, sample preparation and testing technique using the large airgun at the University of Arizona, and the performance results which indicate the technique is an attractive option for comet nucleus sample return.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)387-393
Number of pages7
JournalEuropean Space Agency, (Special Publication) ESA SP
Issue number542
StatePublished - Nov 2003
EventProceedings of the 5th IAA International Conference on Low-Cost Planetary Missions - Noordwijk, Netherlands
Duration: Sep 24 2003Sep 26 2003

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Aerospace Engineering
  • Space and Planetary Science


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