Almahata Sitta (=asteroid 2008 TC3) and the search for the ureilite parent body


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Abstract– This article explores what the recovery of 2008 TC3 in the form of the Almahata Sitta meteorites may tell us about the source region of ureilites in the main asteroid belt. An investigation is made into what is known about asteroids with roughly the same spectroscopic signature as 2008 TC3. A population of low-inclination near-Earth asteroids is identified with spectra similar to 2008 TC3. Five asteroid families in the Main Belt, as well as a population of ungrouped asteroids scattered in the inner and central belts, are identified as possible source regions for this near-Earth population and 2008 TC3. Three of the families are ruled out on dynamical and spectroscopic grounds. New near-infrared spectra of 142 Polana and 1726 Hoffmeister, lead objects in the two other families, also show a poor match to Almahata Sitta. Thus, there are no Main Belt spectral analogs to Almahata Sitta currently known. Space weathering effects on ureilitic materials have not been investigated, so that it is unclear how the spectrum of the Main Belt progenitor may look different from the spectra of 2008 TC3 and the Almahata Sitta meteorites. Dynamical arguments are discussed, as well as ureilite petrogenesis and parent body evolution models, but these considerations do not conclusively point to a source region either, other than that 2008 TC3 probably originated in the inner asteroid belt.