Dynamics of dust transport around an airless body has been a focused area of research in recent years, however, various challenging aspects still remain to be addressed. This paper presents an investigation of charged dust transport and distribution around small asteroids utilizing a full particle Particle-in-Cell (PIC) model to simulate plasma flow around an asteroid and calculate surface charging self-consistently from charge deposition on asteroid. Material properties of asteroid are also explicitly included in the simulation. PIC simulation results are fed into a 3D dust dynamics model to simulate charged dust levitation, transport and distribution. In addition to electrostatic and gravitational forces, the dynamics of dust surface impacts and asteroid body rotation are also included in the model. We discuss the effects on dust levitation and transport by comparing dust grain charge-mass ratio, local electrostatic field and dust grain size. We present simulation results of dust distribution around small spherical asteroids. The study highlights the sensitivity to electrostatic field and grain characteristics while following the general trend that gravity dominates in the far field, where as local electric field prevails at low altitude.

Meeting Name

AIAA Space and Astronautics Forum and Exposition, SPACE 2016 (2016: Sep. 13-16, Long Beach, CA)


Mechanical and Aerospace Engineering

International Standard Book Number (ISBN)


Document Type

Article - Conference proceedings

Document Version

Accepted Manuscript

File Type





© 2016 American Institute of Aeronautics and Astronautics (AIAA), All rights reserved.

Publication Date

01 Sep 2016