Search for carbonaceous chondrites evidence on Vesta through the detection of carbonatesOPEN ACCESS 

G. Massa, E. Palomba, A. Longobardo, M. Angrisani, C. Gisellu, F. Dirri, M.C. De Sanctis, A. Raponi, F.G. Carrozzo, M. Ciarniello

In Press, Journal Pre-proof, Available online 15 November 2023



  • Study of newly calibrated Dawn VIR data of Vesta.
  • Search for carbonates signature on Vesta surface.
  • Identification of the 3.9 μm feature as related to noise level.
  • Definition of an upper limit to the abundance of carbonates present on Vesta.”

“NASA’s Dawn mission was launched in September 2007 and orbited asteroids Vesta (2011−2012) and Ceres (2015–2018). Vesta shows surface dark units that have been suggested to be linked to exogenous materials and are therefore useful to understand the initial stages of the Solar System.

This work takes advantage of the newly calibrated data of the VIR spectrometer, which are characterized by a better signal to noise (S/N) ratio, giving us the opportunity to search for spectral features that were never seen before due to noise. Considering that hydroxyl has been shown to be present in every dark unit on Vesta and also in carbonaceous chondrites, the goals of this work are the search for and characterization of carbonates that are present in carbonaceous chondrites, i.e., the supposed darkening agents of Vesta.

The estimate of the abundances of carbonates is fundamental to identify which carbonaceous chondrite fell on Vesta; this can be crucial for the definition of an evolutionary history of Vesta and the Solar System. The study of a possible feature at 3.9 μm related to the presence of carbonates was analyzed and found to be noise-induced. Although spectral features related to carbonates were not observed, the 3.4 μm absorption band was analyzed anyway in order to fix an upper limit to the abundance of carbonates in carbonaceous chondrites on Vesta. This value is consistent with petrochemical analyses, i.e., no more than 0.2% of carbonates in carbonaceous chondrites.”