Three-axial shape distributions of pebbles, cobbles and boulders smaller than a few meters on asteroid RyuguOPEN ACCESS 

Tatsuhiro Michikami, Axel Hagermann, Tomokatsu Morota, Yasuhiro Yokota, Seitaro Urakawa, Hiroyuki Okamura, Naoya Tanabe, Koki Yumoto, Tatsuki Ebihara, Yuichiro Cho, Carolyn M. Ernst, Masahiko Hayakawa, Masatoshi Hirabayashi, Naru Hirata, Chikatoshi Honda, Rie Honda, Shingo Kameda, Masanori Kanamaru, Seiji Sugita

In Press, Journal Pre-proof, Available online 25 March 2022



• Blocks <1 m on Ryugu have similar three-axial shape distributions to laboratory impact fragments.
• Blocks several meters in size appear to be slightly flatter.
• Some blocks several meters in size are partly buried in a bed of regolith.
• The dominant shape-determining process for blocks may be impact fragmentation.”

“Over a broad size range, the shapes of impact fragments from catastrophic disruptions are distributed around the mean axial ratio 2: √2: 1, irrespective of experimental conditions and target materials. Although most blocks on asteroids are likely to be impact fragments, there is not enough quantitative data for reliable statistics on their three-axial lengths and/or ratios because it is difficult to precisely estimate the heights of the blocks. In this study, we evaluate the heights of blocks on asteroid Ryugu by measuring their shadows. The three-axial ratios of ~4100 small blocks with diameters from 5.0 cm to 7.6 m in Ryugu’s equatorial region are investigated using eight close-up images of narrower localities taken at altitudes below 500 m, i.e. at <5.4 cm/pixel resolution, obtained immediately before the second touch-down of the Hayabusa2 spacecraft. The purpose of this study is to investigate the block shape distribution, which is important for understanding the geological history of asteroid Ryugu. Specifically, the shape distribution is compared to laboratory impact fragments. Our observations indicate that the shape distributions of blocks smaller than 1 m on Ryugu are consistent with laboratory impact fragment shape distributions, implying that the dominant shape-determining process for blocks on Ryugu was impact fragmentation. Blocks several meters in size in the equatorial region seem to be slightly flatter than the rest, suggesting that some blocks are partly buried in a bed of regolith. In conclusion, the shape distributions of blocks from several-cm to several-m in the equatorial region of asteroid Ryugu suggest that these are mainly fragments originating from the catastrophic disruption of their parent body and/or from a later impact.”