This work presents an experimental design for studying low-velocity collisions into granular surfaces in low-gravity. In the experiment apparatus, reduced-gravity is simulated by releasing a free-falling projectile into a surface container with a downward acceleration less than that of Earth’s gravity. The acceleration of the surface is controlled through the use of an Atwood machine, or a system of pulleys and counterweights. The starting height of the surface container and the initial separation distance between the projectile and surface are variable and chosen to accommodate collision velocities up to 20 cm/s and effective accelerations of ∼0.1 to 1.0 m/s2. Accelerometers, placed on the surface container and inside the projectile, provide acceleration data, while high-speed cameras capture the collision and act as secondary data sources. The experiment is built into an existing 5.5 m drop tower frame and requires the custom design of all components, including the projectile, surface sample container, release mechanism, and deceleration system. Data from calibration tests verify the efficiency of the experiment’s deceleration system and provide a quantitative understanding of the performance of the Atwood system.

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