Illuminating the dark side of the asteroid population: Visible near-infrared (0.7–2.45 μm) surface mineralogy modeling of D-type asteroids using Shkuratov theory

Gordon M.Gartrelle, Paul S. Hardersen, Matthew R.M. Izawa, Matthew C. Nowinski

Available online 15 August 2020, 114043



• Shkuratov theory produces reasonable fits to D-type asteroid spectra using mineralogy grounded in meteorite analogues.
• Modal abundances derived from Shkuratov theory agree with those measured by XRD and Rietveld refinement.
• Shkuratov theory is especially useful for “featureless” spectra produced by strongly scattering materials.
• Discrete Fréchet distance is a promising new metric for evaluating the wavelength-dependent spectral fit.”

“D-type asteroids are a prime example of the many dark, low-albedo asteroids which do not reflect sufficient light to reveal detectable mineral absorptions. While D-type asteroids are relatively rare in the inner solar system and the main asteroid belt, they are dominant among the Jovian Trojans. In this study, we have applied Shkuratov radiative transfer modeling to laboratory spectra of meteorites for which mineral abundances have been measured using X-ray diffraction (XRD) and Rietveld refinement. The general agreement of radiative transfer and XRD estimates of mineral abundances demonstrates the applicability of the radiative transfer approach to featureless, low-albedo spectra. Shkuratov modeling was then applied to new spectral observations of D-type asteroids, along with numerous previously published spectra. The surface mineral abundances of 81 D-type objects, including NASA’s Lucy Mission target (21900) Orus, were modeled using assemblages that are plausible based on meteorite analogues. Modeling results reveal D-types are composed of: low-iron olivine; magnesium saponite-dominant phyllosilicates; opaques such as pyrrhotite and tholin; as well as traces of water-ice and other constituents. Subtle compositional differences in model mineralogies exist between Trojan and non-Trojan D-types as well as between L4 and L5 Trojans suggesting differing formational as well as evolutional conditions have affected these bodies.”