Space weathering, grain size, and metamorphic heating effects on ordinary chondrite spectral reflectance parametersOPEN ACCESS 

Eric M. MacLennan, Joshua P. Emery, Michael P. Lucas, Lucas M. McClure, Sean S. Lindsay

MAPS, Version of Record online: 05 March 2024


“The exposure to irradiation from high-energy particles alters the reflectance properties of asteroid surfaces and is referred to as space weathering. This process leads to an increase in spectral slope in visible and near-infrared wavelengths. However, changes in the regolith particle size, which can vary dramatically among the asteroid population, are known to influence the spectral properties of meteorites and asteroids. In this context, we investigate the changes in spectral slope and absorption band depths of fresh and irradiated ordinary chondrite meteorites to quantitatively compare the effects of space weathering and grain size variations. To do so, we develop and employ the Spectral Analysis for Asteroid Reflectance Investigation routine that calculates the band parameters of reflectance spectra. We then formulate a parameter called the Space Weathering Index (SWI) that is designed to encapsulate spectral changes due to space weathering. We find that the SWI is strongly dependent on the spectral slope which complicates the interpretation of asteroid spectra in the context of grain size variations and space weathering. We also show that a second parameter, the Band Depth Index, is indicative of petrologic type. Finally, we use a linear discriminant analysis to classify asteroid reflectance spectra into H, L, LL, and unequilibrated ordinary chondrites.”