The Impact Ejecta Environment of Near Earth Asteroids

Jamey R. Szalay and Mihály Horány

The Astrophysical Journal Letters, Volume 830, Number 2


“Impact ejecta production is a ubiquitous process that occurs on all airless bodies throughout the solar system. Unlike the Moon, which retains a large fraction of its ejecta, asteroids primarily shed their ejecta into the interplanetary dust population. These grains carry valuable information about the chemical compositions of their parent bodies that can be measured via in situ dust detection. Here, we use recent Lunar Atmosphere and Dust Environment Explorer/Lunar Dust Experiment measurements of the lunar dust cloud to calculate the dust ejecta distribution for any airless body near 1 au. We expect this dust distribution to be highly asymmetric, due to non-isotropic impacting fluxes. We predict that flybys near these asteroids would collect many times more dust impacts by transiting the apex side of the body compared to its anti-apex side. While these results are valid for bodies at 1 au, they can be used to qualitatively infer the ejecta environment for all solar-orbiting airless bodies.”