Records of micrometeorite collisions at down to submicron scales were discovered on dust grains recovered from near-Earth asteroid 25143 (Itokawa). Because the grains were sampled from very near the surface of the asteroid, by the Hayabusa spacecraft, their surfaces reflect the low-gravity space environment influencing the physical nature of the asteroid exterior. The space environment was examined by description of grain surfaces and asteroidal scenes were reconstructed. Chemical and O isotope compositions of five lithic grains, with diameters near 50 μm, indicate that the uppermost layer of the rubble-pile-textured Itokawa is largely composed of equilibrated LL-ordinary-chondrite-like material with superimposed effects of collisions. The surfaces of the grains are dominated by fractures, and the fracture planes contain not only sub-μm-sized craters but also a large number of sub-μm- to several- μm-sized adhered particles, some of the latter composed of glass. The size distribution and chemical compositions of the adhered particles, together with the occurrences of the sub-μm-sized craters, suggest formation by hypervelocity collisions of micrometeorites at down to nm scales, a process expected in the physically hostile environment at an asteroid's surface. We describe impact-related phenomena, ranging in scale from 10 -9 to 10 4 meters, demonstrating the central role played by impact processes in the long-term evolution of planetary bodies. Impact appears to be an important process shaping the exteriors of not only large planetary bodies, such as the moon, but also low-gravity bodies such as asteroids.
|Journal||Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States of America|
|Publication status||Published - Mar 13 2012|
- Comprehensive analysis
- Interplanetary dust
- Sample-return mission
- Space weathering
ASJC Scopus subject areas