The global elemental composition of 433 Eros: First results from the NEAR Gamma-Ray Spectrometer orbital dataset

Patrick N. Peplowski

Planetary and Space Science
In Press, Accepted Manuscript



• First results from the NEAR GRS orbital investigation
• Eros’ surface composition is consistent with ordinary chondrites, enstatite chondrites, and volatile-depleted carbonaceous chondrites
• Additional data restricts the match to L and LL chondrites
• Lessons for future gamma-ray spectrometer investigations are discussed”

“A primary goal of the Near-Earth Asteroid Rendezvous (NEAR) mission was to compare the elemental composition of the S-type asteroid 433 Eros to the chemical compositions of meteorites, with the specific objective of testing the hypothesis that the S-type asteroids are the source of the ordinary chondrite (OC) meteorites. To that end, NEAR carried an X-ray and Gamma-Ray Spectrometer (XGRS) to measure the elemental composition of Eros from orbit. To date, no Eros-originating signal had been reported in GRS orbital measurements, a consequence of NEAR’s high orbital altitudes about Eros. A reanalysis of the NEAR GRS orbital dataset, particularly data collected during a series of low-altitude flyovers, has finally revealed the first positively identified gamma-ray signals from Eros. This dataset, which amounts to just ~10 hours of data collection, was used to produce the first GRS-derived global elemental composition values. Results include the first absolute concentrations of Fe and Th, and the first global K concentration. The data confirm prior conclusions that the elemental composition of Eros’ surface is inconsistent with achondritic and volatile-rich carbonaceous chondritic compositions. In contrast, ordinary chondrites, volatile-poor carbonaceous chondrites, and enstatite chondrites have compositions that are consistent with Eros’ gamma-ray emissions. When placed in the context of other gamma-ray spectrometer investigations, this analysis indicates that successful gamma-ray spectroscopy investigations require extended periods of time (≥10 days) at orbital altitudes less than or equal to the radius of the target body.”