Space Weathering Trends on Carbonaceous Asteroids: A possible explanation for Bennu’s blue slope?

C. Lantz, R.P. Binzel, F.E. DeMeo

In Press, Available online 8 November 2017



• Analysis of Near-Earth Asteroid spectra compared to irradiated carbonaceous chondrites.
• Link between Principal Composant Analysis scores and spectral curvature.
• Evolution of primitive NEAs upon space weathering.
• Application to (101955) Bennu.”

“We compare primitive near-Earth asteroid spectral properties to the irradiated carbonaceous chondrite samples of Lantz et al. (2017) in order to assess how space weathering processes might influence taxonomic classification.

Using the same eigenvectors from the asteroid taxonomy by DeMeo et al. (2009), we calculate the principal components for fresh and irradiated meteorites and find that change in spectral slope (blueing or reddening) causes a corresponding shift in the two first principal components along the same line that the C- and X-complexes track. Using a sample of B-, C-, X-, and D-type NEOs with visible and near-infrared spectral data, we further investigated the correlation between prinicipal components and the spectral curvature for the primitive asteroids. We find that space weathering effects are not just slope and albedo, but also include spectral curvature.

We show how, through space weathering, surfaces having an original ”C-type” reflectance can thus turn into a redder P-type or a bluer B-type, and that space weathering can also decrease (and disguise) the D-type population.

Finally we take a look at the case of OSIRIS-REx target (101955) Bennu and propose an explanation for the blue and possibly red spectra that were previously observed on different locations of its surface: parts of Bennu’s surface could have become blue due to space weathering, while fresher areas are redder. No clear prediction can be made on Hayabusa-2 target (162173) Ryugu.”

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