Laboratory VIS–NIR reflectance measurements of heated Vesta regolith analogs: Unraveling the spectral properties of the pitted impact deposits on VestaOPEN ACCESS 

T. Michalik, A. Maturilli, E. A. Cloutis, K. Stephan, R. Milke, K.-D. Matz, R. Jaumann, L. Hecht, H. Hiesinger, K. A. Otto

MAPS, Version of Record online: 05 April 2024


“Pitted impact deposits on Vesta show higher reflectance and pyroxene absorption band strengths compared to their immediate surroundings and other typical Vestan materials. We investigated whether heating to different temperatures for different durations of Vestan regolith analog materials can reproduce these spectral characteristics using mixtures of HEDs, the carbonaceous chondrite Murchison, and terrestrial analogs. We find no consistent spectral trend due merely to temperature increases, but observed that the interiors of many heated samples show both higher reflectance and pyroxene band I strength than their heated surfaces. With electron probe microanalysis, we additionally observe the formation of hematite, which could account for the higher reflectance. The presence of hematite indicates oxidation occurring in the sample interiors. In combination with heat, this might cause the increase of pyroxene band strengths through migration of iron cations. The effect grows larger with increasing temperature and duration, although temperature appears to play the more dominant role. A higher proportion of Murchison or the terrestrial carbonaceous chondrite analog within our mixtures also appears to facilitate the onset of oxidation. Our observations suggest that both the introduction of exogenic material on Vesta as well as the heating from impacts were necessary to enable the process (possibly oxidation) causing the observed spectral changes.”