In this work we quantitatively assess, via instabilities, a Navier–Stokes-order (small-Knudsen-number) continuum model based on the kinetic theory analogy and applied to inelastic spheres in a homogeneous cooling system. Dissipative collisions are known to give rise to instabilities, namely velocity vortices and particle clusters, for sufficiently large domains. We compare predictions for the critical length scales required for particle clustering obtained from transient simulations using the continuum model with molecular dynamics (MD) simulations. The agreement between continuum simulations and MD simulations is excellent, particularly given the presence of well-developed velocity vortices at the onset of clustering. More specifically, spatial mapping of the local velocity-field Knudsen numbers (
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