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Unraveling Surface Mineralogy of Outer Main Belt Asteroids Using 3-µm Spectra

Wednesday, July 2, 2014

CM (Mighei-like) and CI (Ivuna-like) carbonaceous chondrites are primitive meteorites that consist of some of the most pristine matter known in the Solar System. They are thought to be genetically related to outer Main Belt asteroids (C-, D-, G-, F-, T-, and B-types) that span the 2.5 < a < 4.0 AU region. They are also thought to be the source that might have delivered water and organics to terrestrial planets during their accretion. In this talk, I’ll discuss the development of reliable 3-µm spectral indicators that can place constraints on the nature of phyllosilicate mineralogy on the surface of these asteroids. To that end, I have undertaken combined petrologic, geochemical, and spectroscopic analyses of CM and CI chondrites (under asteroid-like conditions) and outer Main Belt asteroids. Using the SpeX spectrograph/imager at NASA Infrared Telescope Facility (IRTF), I measured near-infrared (NIR: 0.7-4.0 µm) spectra of 40 outer Main Belt asteroids that allowed the identification and distribution of four 3-µm spectral groups, each of which presumably reflects a distinct surface mineralogy. 

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