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Spectral reflectance of near-earth asteroids : implications for composition, origin and evolution

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Title: Spectral reflectance of near-earth asteroids : implications for composition, origin and evolution
Authors: McFadden, Lucy-Ann Adams
Keywords: Asteroids
Planets -- Geology
Planets -- Spectra
Issue Date: 1983
Abstract: The visible (0.33-1.0μm) reflectance spectrum of nine near-Earth asteroids have been measured with a two-beam photoelectric photometer and the 2.2m telescope at Mauna Kea Observatory. Reflectance spectra of eight additional near-Earth asteroids are compiled and presented with the new measurements. Infrared data exist for eight of these 17 objects and are used to augment interpretation of the visible spectra. Mineralogical-petrological interpretation assuming cosmically abundant material is made based on the principles of crystal field theory. No rare or unusual minerals are seen on the surface of these objects. The surface composition of near-Earth asteroids (with one exception) contain common rock-forming minerals such as olivine, pyroxene and phyllosilicates. Opaque components are present but cannot be mineralogically identified. The spectra of near-Earth asteroids have stronger mafic silicate absorption bands than normally present in spectra of main belt asteroids. The spectrum of 2201 1947XC cannot be interpreted in terms of common asteroidal components. This spectrum is examined for evidence of cometary features but no active comet features are seen. Further consideration of low level cometary activity is warranted based on its orbital elements and unusual spectrum. There are presumably observational biases in the observed near-Earth asteroid population. A technique to test whether the observed brightness bias is a function of observational circumstances is proposed. The excess of high albedo near-Earth asteroids may be a function of the composition of their source region. The mineralogical-petrological interpretation of near-Earth asteroids is made to address the following questions: (1) what are the source regions of near-Earth asteroids? (2) What is the relation of near-Earth asteroids to meteorites? and (3) Are near-Earth asteroids potential extra-terrestrial resources? A number of asteroid analogues exist in proposed source regions, near the Kirkwood gaps, the U6 resonance, and the Flora family. There is one analogue of a large main belt asteroid. The Mars-crossers have not been adequately sampled to determine whether or not near-Earth asteroids are supplied from this population. There are no near-Earth analogues among the seven Mars-crossers that have measured reflectance spectra. Additional spectral coverage or albedo determinations are needed to confirm the similarity of surface composition that is suggested by some asteroids with similar reflectance spectra to some near-Earth asteroids. Some interesting analogues include 1580 Betulia and 2 Pallas, 1685 Toro and 349 Dembowska, and 1915 Quetzalcoatl and 4 Vesta because these main belt compositions were unique among the asteroids until the near-Earth asteroid analogues were discovered. Perhaps these compositions are common in small asteroids which have not previously been measured because of their size. The existing data suggest there are representatives of near-Earth asteroid sources in all of the regions proposed on dynamical grounds (except for Mars-crossers which have not been adequately tested). There is no satisfactory test for the relation of near-earth asteroids to extinct cometary nuclei. Two asteroids have compositions suggestive of cometary compositions: 2201 1947XC and 1580 Betulia (a phyllosilicate-rich assemblage of which comets are expected to be composed). The compositions of the other measured asteroids do not agree with the most often assumed notion that comets are dirty (hydrated silicate) snowballs. Seven near-Earth asteroids are meteoritic analogues. The following types are represented in the presently known population: LL4 ordinary chondrite, shocked-black L chondrite, carbonaceous chondrite type 3, and diogenite. There are no irons, stony-irons, low metamorphic grade carbonaceous chondrites (types 1 or 2) and many achondrite types are not represented. The low frequency of ordinary choondrite compositions compared to that in the meteorite collection is consistent with the hypothesis that a few parent bodies are located in dynamically favorable regions to supply 90% of the observed meteorite falls. The number of non-meteoritic analogues is consistent with the recently discovered diversity of the meteorite population. There are some near-Earth asteroids which are not favorably positioned to collide with the Earth as frequently a~ others. Rare meteorite types may come from these near-Earth asteroids that do not have measured reflectance spectra to date. The absence of assemblages dominated by nickel-iron supports the observed old cosmic ray exposure age and dynamical models using sources from regions with mean lifetimes consistent with the comic ray ages, outside of the near-Earth population. The presently known near-Earth asteroid population consists of material potentially useful for extra-terrestrial activities. There are abundant silicates. The presence of phyllosilicates and opaques can provide water and other volatiles (2100 Ra-Shalom, 1580 Betulia). At least two objects are inferred to have fine-grained metal (1980AA, 1862 Apollo).
Description: Thesis (Ph. D.)--University of Hawaii at Manoa, 1983.
xv, 201 leaves, bound ill. 29 cm
Rights: All UHM dissertations and theses are protected by copyright. They may be viewed from this source for any purpose, but reproduction or distribution in any format is prohibited without written permission from the copyright owner.
Appears in Collections:Ph.D. - Geology and Geophysics

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