Simulated Space Weathering of Fe- and Mg-rich Aqueously Altered Minerals Using Pulsed Laser IrradiationOPEN ACCESS 

H.M. Kaluna, H.A. Ishii, J.P. Bradley, J.J. Gillis-Davis, P.G. Lucey

Update (2 Jan 17): PDF (OPEN ACCESS)

In Press, Accepted Manuscript, Available online 29 December 2016


• We simulate space weathering on a subset of aqueously altered minerals found in volatile-rich meteorites.
• The Mg-rich mineral experiences spectral reddening whereas the Fe-rich minerals experience reddening then bluing.
• SEM and TEM analyses of the irradiated Fe-rich samples reveal the presence of micron-sized organic-like particles.
• Radiative transfer modeling suggests the organic-like particles trigger the spectral bluing in the Fe-rich samples.
• Space weathering trends on asteroids may have a compositional dependency that could be used to derive the aqueous histories of these bodies.”

“Simulated space weathering experiments on volatile-rich carbonaceous chondrites (CCs) have resulted in contrasting spectral behaviors (e.g. reddening vs bluing). The aim of this work is to investigate the origin of these contrasting trends by simulating space weathering on a subset of minerals found in these meteorites. We use pulsed laser irradiation to simulate micrometeorite impacts on aqueously altered minerals and observe their spectral and physical evolution as a function of irradiation time. Irradiation of the mineral lizardite, a Mg-phyllosilicate, produces a small degree of reddening and darkening, but a pronounced reduction in band depths with increasing irradiation. In comparison, irradiation of an Fe-rich aqueously altered mineral assemblage composed of cronstedtite, pyrite and siderite, produces significant darkening and band depth suppression. The spectral slopes of the Fe-rich assemblage initially redden then become bluer with increasing irradiation time. Post-irradiation analyses of the Fe-rich assemblage using scanning and transmission electron microscopy reveal the presence of micron sized carbon-rich particles that contain notable fractions of nitrogen and oxygen. Radiative transfer modeling of the Fe-rich assemblage suggests that nanometer sized metallic iron (npFe0) particles result in the initial spectral reddening of the samples, but the increasing production of micron sized carbon particles (μpC) results in the subsequent spectral bluing. The presence of npFe0 and the possible catalytic nature of cronstedtite, an Fe-rich phyllosilicate, likely promotes the synthesis of these carbon-rich, organic-like compounds. These experiments indicate that space weathering processes may enable organic synthesis reactions on the surfaces of volatile-rich asteroids. Furthermore, Mg-rich and Fe-rich aqueously altered minerals are dominant at different phases of the aqueous alteration process. Thus, the contrasting spectral slope evolution between the Fe- and Mg-rich samples in these experiments may indicate that space weathering trends of volatile-rich asteroids have a compositional dependency that could be used to determine the aqueous histories of asteroid parent bodies”