Spectroscopic characterization of mineralogy and its diversity across Vesta.
ABSTRACT The mineralogy of Vesta, based on data obtained by the Dawn spacecraft's visible and infrared spectrometer, is consistent with howardite-eucrite-diogenite meteorites. There are considerable regional and local variations across the asteroid: Spectrally distinct regions include the south-polar Rheasilvia basin, which displays a higher diogenitic component, and equatorial regions, which show a higher eucritic component. The lithologic distribution indicates a deeper diogenitic crust, exposed after excavation by the impact that formed Rheasilvia, and an upper eucritic crust. Evidence for mineralogical stratigraphic layering is observed on crater walls and in ejecta. This is broadly consistent with magma-ocean models, but spectral variability highlights local variations, which suggests that the crust can be a complex assemblage of eucritic basalts and pyroxene cumulates. Overall, Vesta mineralogy indicates a complex magmatic evolution that led to a differentiated crust and mantle.
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ABSTRACT: Impact cratering is the one geologic process which is common to all solar system objects. Impact craters form by the resulting explosion between a solar system body and hypervelocity objects. Comparison with craters formed by chemical and nuclear explosions reveals that crater diameter is related to other morphometric characteristics of the crater, such as depth and rim height. These relationships allow scientists to use impact craters to probe the subsurface structure within the upper few kilometer of a planetary surface and to estimate the amounts and types of degradational processes which have affected the planet since crater formation. Crater size-frequency distribution analysis provides the primary mechanism for determining ages of planetary terrains and constraining the timing of resurfacing episodes. Thus, impact craters provide many important insights into the evolution of planetary surfaces.Geomorphology 07/2015; 240:18-33. DOI:10.1016/j.geomorph.2014.08.027 · 2.79 Impact Factor
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ABSTRACT: We have determined the mid-IR optical constants of one alkali feldspar and four pyroxene compositions in the range of 250-4000 cm(-1). Measured reflectance spectra of oriented single crystals were iteratively fit to modeled spectra derived from classical dispersion analysis. We present the real and imaginary indices of refraction (n and k) along with the oscillator parameters with which they were modeled. While materials of orthorhombic symmetry and higher are well covered by the current literature, optical constants have been derived for only a handful of geologically relevant monoclinic materials, including gypsum and orthoclase. Two input parameters that go into radiative transfer models, the scattering phase function and the single scattering albedo, are functions of a material's optical constants. Pyroxene is a common rock-forming mineral group in terrestrial bodies as well as meteorites and is also detected in cosmic dust. Hence, having a set of pyroxene optical constants will provide additional details about the composition of Solar System bodies and circumstellar materials. We follow the method of Mayerhofer et al. (2010), which is based on the Berreman 4 x 4 matrix formulation. This approach provides a consistent way to calculate the reflectance coefficients in low-symmetry cases. Additionally, while many models assume normal incidence to simplify the dispersion relations, this more general model applies to reflectance spectra collected at non-normal incidence.10/2014; 99(10-10):1942-1955. DOI:10.2138/am-2014-4828
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ABSTRACT: Vesta is the asteroid with the largest albedo variation among the known rocky Solar System objects and shows a widespread occurrence of dark material (DM) and bright material (BM) units. In the first observation phases by the Dawn spacecraft, two main extensions of low albedo areas were identified on Vesta and found to be closely correlated with carbonaceous, OH-rich, material. In this work we use the hyperspectral data provided by the VIR-Dawn imaging spectrometer onboard Dawn to detect and analyze individual, well-defined, dark material units. We define DM units assuming a relative criterion, i.e. reflectance lower than the surroundings. By coupling visible and infrared images of the same area we are able to select real dark material units, discarding false detections created by shadowing effects. A detailed final catalogue of 123 dark units is presented, containing the geographical parameters and the main spectral characteristics for each unit. Independently of the geological context of the dark units, all DMs show similar spectral properties, dominated by the pyroxene absorption features, as is the average spectrum of Vesta. This finding suggests a similar composition, with the presence of darkening agents that also weaken pyroxene band depths. The majority (90%) of the DM units shows a positive correlation between low albedo and an OH band centered at 2.8 μm, confirming the hypothesis that the darkening agents are carbonaceous chondrites, probably delivered by low-velocity impacts of primitive asteroids. A comparison with laboratory spectra allows us to better constrain the size and the composition of the darkening agents. These DM areas seem to be made of eucritic material. The regolith grain size seems to be nearly constant around an average value of 25 μm, and is quite homogenous at least in the first hundreds of meters beneath the Vesta surface, suggesting similar processing mechanisms for both DM and BM.Icarus 09/2014; 240:58–72. DOI:10.1016/j.icarus.2014.04.040 · 2.84 Impact Factor