Visible–near-infrared observations of organics and carbonates on (101955) Bennu: Classification method and search for surface context

S.M. Ferrone, B.E. Clark, H.H. Kaplan, J.-L. Rizos, X.-D. Zou, J.-Y. Li, M.A. Barucci, A.A. Simon, D. Reuter, P.H. Hasselmann, J.D.P. Deshapriya, G. Poggiali, J.R. Brucato, S. Cambioni, Ed Cloutis, V.E. Hamilton, D.S. Lauretta

In Press, Journal Pre-proof, Available online 19 June 2021



• OSIRIS-REx target asteroid 101955 Bennu contains organics and carbonates.
• Spectra of regions on Bennu show features similar to laboratory meteorite spectra that contain organics.
• These detections of organics and carbonates do not seem to be correlated with surface features such as craters or boulders.
• Bennu expresses more carbonate-like spectra than organic-like spectra.
• Organics and carbonates are mixed below the spatial resolution of the OSIRIS-REx Visual InfraRed Spectrometer, OVIRS observations.”

“The OSIRIS-REx Visible and InfraRed Spectrometer (OVIRS) onboard the Origins, Spectral Interpretation, Resource Identification, and Security–Regolith Explorer (OSIRIS-REx) spacecraft detected ~3.4-μm absorption features indicative of carbonates and organics on near-Earth asteroid (101955) Bennu. We apply a Kolmogorov-Smirnov similarity test to OVIRS spectra of Bennu and laboratory spectra of minerals to categorize 3.4-μm features observed on Bennu as representing either carbonates or organics. Among the 15,585 spectra acquired by OVIRS during high-resolution (4 to 9 m/spectrum footprint) reconnaissance observations of select locations on Bennu’s surface, we find 544 spectral matches with carbonates and 245 spectral matches with organics (total of 789 high-confidence spectral matches). We map the locations of these matches and characterize features of Bennu’s surface using corresponding image data. Image data are used to quantitatively characterize the albedo within each spectrometer footprint. We find no apparent relationships between spectral classification and surface morphological expression, and we find no correlation between carbon species classification and other spectral properties such as slope or band depth. This suggests either that carbonates and organics are ubiquitous across the surface of Bennu, independent of surface features (consistent with findings from laboratory studies of carbonaceous chondrites), or that the observations do not have the spatial resolution required to resolve differences. However, we find more organic spectral matches at certain locations, including the site from which the OSIRIS-REx mission collected a sample, than at others. Higher concentrations of organics may be explained if these materials have been more recently exposed to surface alteration processes, perhaps by recent crater formation.”