IRTF observations of S complex and other asteroids: Implications for surface compositions, the presence of clinopyroxenes, and their relationship to meteorites

Authors

  • Katherine M. GIETZEN,

    1. Arkansas Center for Space and Planetary Sciences, University of Arkansas, Fayetteville, Arkansas 72701
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  • Claud H. S. LACY,

    1. Arkansas Center for Space and Planetary Sciences, University of Arkansas, Fayetteville, Arkansas 72701
    2. Department of Physics, University of Arkansas, Fayetteville, Arkansas 72701
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  • Daniel R. OSTROWSKI,

    1. Arkansas Center for Space and Planetary Sciences, University of Arkansas, Fayetteville, Arkansas 72701
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  • Derek W. G. SEARS

    1. Arkansas Center for Space and Planetary Sciences, University of Arkansas, Fayetteville, Arkansas 72701
    2. Department of Chemistry and Biochemistry, University of Arkansas, Fayetteville, Arkansas 72701
    3. Present address: Space Science and Astrobiology Division, MS245-3, NASA Ames Research Center, Moffett Field, Mountain View, California 94035, USA
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Corresponding author. E-mail: derek.sears@nasa.gov

Abstract

Abstract– We have obtained near-infrared spectra for near-Earth asteroids (NEA) and Main Belt asteroids by using NASA’s Infrared Telescope Facility. Most of the S complex classes of the Tholen-Bus-DeMeo scheme and the S(I)–S(VII) classes are represented. To help interpret the results, we examined visible/near-IR spectra for ordinary chondrites. The unequilibrated ordinary chondrites (UOC) spectra contain a 2.3 μm feature which is absent in the spectra of the equilibrated ordinary chondrites (EOC). On the basis of literature data and new spectra low-Ca clinopyroxenes, we suggest that the 2.3 μm in UOC is due to the presence of low-Ca clinopyroxene in the UOC which is absent in EOC. While this difference can be seen in the raw spectra, we confirmed this observation using a modified Gaussian model (MGM) for spectral analysis. Both the UOC and the EOC plot in the S(IV) field of the band area ratio plot for asteroids. We suggest that many or most S(IV) asteroids have material resembling UOC on their surfaces. An internally heated ordinary chondrite parent object would have EOC material at depth and UOC material on the surface. Cosmic ray exposure ages, and K-Ar ages for L chondrites, indicate that most EOC came from relatively few objects; however, the age distributions for UOC are unlike those of EOC. We suggest that while EOC come from the interiors of a limited number of S(IV) asteroids, the UOC come from the surfaces of a large number of S(IV) asteroids.

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