Deciphering Redox State for a Metal-Rich WorldOPEN ACCESS 

Timothy J. McCoy, Steven D. Dibb, Patrick N. Peplowski, Clara Maurel, Hannah L. Bercovici, Catherine M. Corrigan, James F. Bell III, Benjamin P. Weiss, David J. Lawrence, Daniel D. Wenkert, Thomas H. Prettyman & Lindy T. Elkins-Tanton

Space Science Reviews, Volume 218, Article number: 6 (2022)
Published: 01 March 2022



“The Psyche mission’s Oxidation-Reduction Working Group is focused on understanding, determining, and applying the redox state of (16) Psyche to understand the origin of a metal-rich world. The oxidation-reduction state of an asteroid, along with its temperature, parent body size, and composition, is a key parameter in determining the history of an asteroid. Determining the redox state from spacecraft data is most easily done by examining potential metal-oxide buffer pairs. The occurrence of Ni, Fe, C, Cr, P and Si, in that order, in the metal or sulfide phase of an asteroidal body indicates increasingly reduced conditions. Key observations by the Imager and Gamma-Ray and Neutron Spectrometer (GRNS) of Psyche can bracket the redox state using metal-oxide buffers. The presence of Fe,Ni metal can be confirmed by the ratios of Fe/O or Fe/Si and the concentration of Ni variability in metal across the asteroid can be determined by GRNS. The FeO concentration of silicates is complementary to the Ni concentration of metal and can be constrained using filters on the Imager. The presence of FeO in silicates from ground-based observations is one of the few measurements we already have of redox state, although available data permit a wide range of silicate compositions and mineralogies. The presence of C, P or Si concentrated in the metallic, Fe-rich portion of the asteroid, as measured by GRNS, or Ca-sulfide, determined by imaging, would indicate increasingly reducing conditions. Linkage to known types of meteorites, whether metal-rich chondrites, stony-irons or irons, expands the mineralogical, chemical and isotopic data not available from remote observations alone. Redox also controls both silicate and metal mineralogy, influencing differentiation, solidification, and subsolidus cooling, including the relative abundance of sulfur in the core and possible magnetic signatures. The redox state of Psyche, if a fully-differentiated metallic core, might constrain the location and timing of both the formation of Psyche and any oxidation it might have experienced.”