Forum for Science, Industry and Business

Sponsored by:     3M 
Search our Site:

 

Asteroids and meteorites reveal family resemblance

11.09.2006
Asteroids and meteorites are supposed to be made of the same stuff – at least that's what earth science teachers have been telling their students for decades. But until re-cently, the data didn't quite fit the story.

When researchers compared the near-infrared reflec-tance of asteroids (as measured from Earth) and meteorites (collected on Earth) they found enough differences to raise doubts about whether the asteroids really could be the source of Earth's meteorites.

A detailed new comparison of the near-Earth asteroid Itokawa with existing meteorite samples confirms that the process of space-weathering can explain the difference in reflectance pattern (spectrum) between asteroids and ordinary chondrites, the most common class of meteorites.

"They [chondritic meteorites] are so abundant, there have to be many, many asteroid sources, said Takahiro Hiroi, the paper's lead author, but we couldn't find any that matched so clearly, until now. These observations really let us see space weathering at work."

Over millions of years, the flow of high-energy ions and microscopic particles vaporizes the sur-face of asteroids, depositing a thin film that changes the asteroid's optical properties. Highly-weathered areas tend to appear dark and red. (The near infrared spectrum of such areas is shifted toward the red end of the spectrum.)

Takhiro Hiroi, a senior research associate at Brown University, visited several museums and col-lected dozens of samples of fresh, or newly fallen, meteorites. He rejected many samples because the oxidation caused by rain and air on the Earth's surface changes the rock's composition and interferes with the asteroid comparison. Together with other researchers from the Hayabusa mis-sion, Hiroi compared the near-infrared reflectance spectra of meteorite samples with spectra ob-served at specific locations on the asteroid.

One sample (from a meteorite dubbed Alta'ameem, for the area in Iraq where it fell) resulted in a near-identical match after correction for the changes that result from space weathering. Those changes include a reduction in mean optical path length – usually a sign of smaller grain size -- and an increase in tiny iron particles known as nano-phase metallic iron or npFe0.

Hiroi was able to see the effects of space weathering by taking spectra from one light and one dark area on the asteroid's surface. Matching the observed spectra to that of the Alta'ameem me-teorite, he estimated that the highly-weathered site contained about 0.069 percent nanophase me-tallic iron and the less-weathered site contained about 0.031 percent. Because Alta'ameem is an LL chondrite, a class that represents only 10% of ordinary chondrite meteorites, Hiroi suggests that there must be many asteroids in near Earth orbit with compositions similar to the more-common L- and H-type meteorites.

Evidence of space weathering has been seen before on moons and larger asteroids, but such clear evidence is new for smaller asteroids, such as the 550-meter Itokawa. It had been thought that such bodies, with their smaller gravitational fields, would quickly be stripped of the weathered material. This new evidence shows that space weathered material does accumulate on small as-teroids, which probably are the source of most meteorites.

Martha Downs | EurekAlert!
Further information:
http://www.brown.edu

More articles from Physics and Astronomy:

nachricht New NASA study improves search for habitable worlds
20.10.2017 | NASA/Goddard Space Flight Center

nachricht Physics boosts artificial intelligence methods
19.10.2017 | California Institute of Technology

All articles from Physics and Astronomy >>>

The most recent press releases about innovation >>>

Die letzten 5 Focus-News des innovations-reports im Überblick:

Im Focus: Neutron star merger directly observed for the first time

University of Maryland researchers contribute to historic detection of gravitational waves and light created by event

On August 17, 2017, at 12:41:04 UTC, scientists made the first direct observation of a merger between two neutron stars--the dense, collapsed cores that remain...

Im Focus: Breaking: the first light from two neutron stars merging

Seven new papers describe the first-ever detection of light from a gravitational wave source. The event, caused by two neutron stars colliding and merging together, was dubbed GW170817 because it sent ripples through space-time that reached Earth on 2017 August 17. Around the world, hundreds of excited astronomers mobilized quickly and were able to observe the event using numerous telescopes, providing a wealth of new data.

Previous detections of gravitational waves have all involved the merger of two black holes, a feat that won the 2017 Nobel Prize in Physics earlier this month....

Im Focus: Smart sensors for efficient processes

Material defects in end products can quickly result in failures in many areas of industry, and have a massive impact on the safe use of their products. This is why, in the field of quality assurance, intelligent, nondestructive sensor systems play a key role. They allow testing components and parts in a rapid and cost-efficient manner without destroying the actual product or changing its surface. Experts from the Fraunhofer IZFP in Saarbrücken will be presenting two exhibits at the Blechexpo in Stuttgart from 7–10 November 2017 that allow fast, reliable, and automated characterization of materials and detection of defects (Hall 5, Booth 5306).

When quality testing uses time-consuming destructive test methods, it can result in enormous costs due to damaging or destroying the products. And given that...

Im Focus: Cold molecules on collision course

Using a new cooling technique MPQ scientists succeed at observing collisions in a dense beam of cold and slow dipolar molecules.

How do chemical reactions proceed at extremely low temperatures? The answer requires the investigation of molecular samples that are cold, dense, and slow at...

Im Focus: Shrinking the proton again!

Scientists from the Max Planck Institute of Quantum Optics, using high precision laser spectroscopy of atomic hydrogen, confirm the surprisingly small value of the proton radius determined from muonic hydrogen.

It was one of the breakthroughs of the year 2010: Laser spectroscopy of muonic hydrogen resulted in a value for the proton charge radius that was significantly...

All Focus news of the innovation-report >>>

Anzeige

Anzeige

Event News

ASEAN Member States discuss the future role of renewable energy

17.10.2017 | Event News

World Health Summit 2017: International experts set the course for the future of Global Health

10.10.2017 | Event News

Climate Engineering Conference 2017 Opens in Berlin

10.10.2017 | Event News

 
Latest News

Terahertz spectroscopy goes nano

20.10.2017 | Information Technology

Strange but true: Turning a material upside down can sometimes make it softer

20.10.2017 | Materials Sciences

NRL clarifies valley polarization for electronic and optoelectronic technologies

20.10.2017 | Interdisciplinary Research

VideoLinks
B2B-VideoLinks
More VideoLinks >>>