Spectral Properties of Near-Earth Asteroids: Evidence for Sources of Ordinary Chondrite Meteorites

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Science  16 Aug 1996:
Vol. 273, Issue 5277, pp. 946-948
DOI: 10.1126/science.273.5277.946


Although ordinary chondrite (OC) meteorites dominate observed falls, the identification of near-Earth and main-belt asteroid sources has remained elusive. Telescopic measurements of 35 near-Earth asteroids (∼3 kilometers in diameter) revealed six that have visible wavelength spectra similar to laboratory spectra of OC meteorites. Near-Earth asteroids were found to have spectral properties that span the range between the previously separated domains of OC meteorites and the most common (S class) asteroids, suggesting a link. This range of spectral properties could arise through a diversity of mineralogies and regolith particle sizes, as well as through a time-dependent surface weathering process.