Delivering a Projectile Component to the Vestan Regolith

R. Terik Daly, Peter H. Schultz

In Press, Accepted Manuscript, Available online 1 September 2015


Dark material on Vesta may consist of carbonaceous chondrite-like material delivered by impact events. This study uses hypervelocity impact experiments to assess the viability of the impact delivery hypothesis. Experiments reveal that impact events deliver significant fractions of the projectile to the target during impacts at average Vestan speeds. Hence, dark material can plausibly be delivered to Vesta by impacts, with the projectile component accumulating in the regolith with time. Projectile retention is sensitive to impact angle, ranging from 7% for 30° impacts (measured from horizontal) to 72% for vertical impacts. Averaged over the probability distribution of impact angles, 17% of the projectile’s mass remains in or near the crater. Projectile-contaminated breccias largely remain inside the crater for vertical impacts. In oblique impacts, projectile-contaminated pieces concentrate downrange beyond the crater rim. Based on experiments, projectile delivery is expected for typical Vestan impact conditions, not only for extraordinary events such as low-probability, very low-speed (e.g., < 2 km s-1) impacts. These experiments indicate that other (non-dark) impactors contaminate the Vestan regolith. Regolith-laden bodies in environments with similar impact speeds also may accrete significant amounts of foreign debris.[/su_quote]