Basalt or not? Near-infrared spectra, surface mineralogical estimates, and meteorite analogs for 33 Vp-type asteroidsOPEN ACCESS 

Paul S. Hardersen, Vishnu Reddy, Edward Cloutis, Matt Nowinski, Margaret Dievendorf, Russell M. Genet, Savan Becker, Rachel Roberts


“Investigations of the main asteroid belt and efforts to constrain that population’s physical characteristics involve the daunting task of studying hundreds of thousands of small bodies. Taxonomic systems are routinely employed to study the large scale nature of the asteroid belt because they utilize common observational parameters, but asteroid taxonomies only define broadly observable properties and are not compositionally diagnostic (Tholen, 1984; Carvano et al., 2010, Hasselmann et al., 2012). This work builds upon the results of Hardersen et al. (2014, 2015), which has the goal of constraining the abundance and distribution of basaltic asteroids throughout the main asteroid belt. We report on the near infrared (NIR: 0.7 to 2.5 microns) reflectance spectra, surface mineralogical characterizations, spectral band parameter analysis, and meteorite analogs for 33 Vp asteroids. NIR reflectance spectroscopy is an effective remote sensing technique to detect most pyroxene group minerals, which are spectrally distinct with two very broad spectral absorptions at 0.9 and 1.9 microns (Cloutis et al., 1986; Gaffey et al., 2002; Burbine et al., 2009). Combined with the results from Hardersen et al. (2014, 2015), we identify basaltic asteroids for 95 percent (39 of 41) of our inner-belt Vp sample, but only 25 percent (2 of 8) of the outer-belt Vp sample. Inner belt basaltic asteroids are most likely associated with 4 Vesta and represent impact fragments ejected from previous collisions. Outer belt Vp asteroids exhibit disparate spectral, mineralogic, and meteorite analog characteristics and likely originate from diverse parent bodies. The discovery of two additional likely basaltic asteroids provides additional evidence for an outer-belt basaltic asteroid population. “