Irradiation history of Itokawa regolith material deduced from noble gases in the Hayabusa samples.

Geochemical Research Center, The University of Tokyo, Bunkyo-ku, Tokyo 113-0033, Japan.
Science (Impact Factor: 31.2). 08/2011; 333(6046):1128-31. DOI:10.1126/science.1207785
Source: PubMed

ABSTRACT Noble gas isotopes were measured in three rocky grains from asteroid Itokawa to elucidate a history of irradiation from cosmic rays and solar wind on its surface. Large amounts of solar helium (He), neon (Ne), and argon (Ar) trapped in various depths in the grains were observed, which can be explained by multiple implantations of solar wind particles into the grains, combined with preferential He loss caused by frictional wear of space-weathered rims on the grains. Short residence time of less than 8 million years was implied for the grains by an estimate on cosmic-ray-produced (21)Ne. Our results suggest that Itokawa is continuously losing its surface materials into space at a rate of tens of centimeters per million years. The lifetime of Itokawa should be much shorter than the age of our solar system.

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