Hello! Welcome to Ron Ballouz's home page.
I've recently graduated with a PhD in Astronomy from the University of Maryland, College Park.
I'm currently working with Dr. Derek Richardson in the Astronomy Department at the University of Maryland.
Using pkdgrav, a N-body gravity solver, modified with a soft-sphere discrete element method implentation, I simulate dynamical and collisional processes in the Solar System, including:
- Rubble Pile Collisions: studying the role that rotation plays in determining the strength of planetesimals and asteroids that are gravitational aggregates.
- Spacecraft-Regolith interactions on Asteroids: In support of the OSIRIS-REx mission to Bennu, I have been studying the granular dynamics of the surface as the sampler device touches down and interacts with it.
- Collisional evolution of Saturn's B-Ring: one of the latest projects I've started working on. We are attempting to determine what physical processes give rise to the B-Ring's complex optical depth structure.
My thesis work involves exploring the influence of particle shape on granular processes in the Solar System. By writing a polyhedra implementation for pkdgrav, I hope to show that particle shape plays a critical role in determining the outcomes of granular interactions. Processes that are prevelant in small bodies in the Solar System, and which dominate their physical evolution.
For an ADS listing of my previous work. Go here.