Linking meteorites to their asteroid parent bodies: The capabilities of dust analyzer instruments during asteroid flybysOPEN ACCESS 

Lisa Maria Eckart, Jon K. Hillier, Frank Postberg, Simone Marchi, Zoltan Sternovsky

Version of Record online: 04 September 2023


“Linking meteorites to their asteroid parent bodies remains an outstanding issue. Space-based dust characterization using impact ionization mass spectrometry is a proven technique for the compositional analysis of individual cosmic dust grains. Here we investigate the feasibility of determining asteroid compositions via cation mass spectrometric analyses of their dust ejecta clouds during low (7–9 km s−1) velocity spacecraft flybys. At these speeds, the dust grain mass spectra are dominated by easily ionized elements and molecular species. Using known bulk mineral volume abundances, we show that it is feasible to discriminate the common meteorite classes of carbonaceous chondrites, ordinary chondrites, and howardite–eucrite–diogenite achondrites, as well as their subtypes, relying solely on the detection of elements with ionization efficiencies of ≤700 or ≤800 kJ mol−1, applicable to low (~7 km s−1) and intermediate (~9 km s−1) flyby speed scenarios, respectively. Including the detection of water ion groups enables greater discrimination between certain meteorite types, and flyby speeds ≥10 km s−1 enhance the diagnostic capabilities of this technique still further. Although additional terrestrial calibration is required, this technique may allow more unequivocal asteroid-meteorite connections to be determined by spacecraft flybys, emphasizing the utility of dust instruments on future asteroid missions.”