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The Surface Composition and Temperature of Asteroid 21 Lutetia As Observed by Rosetta/VIRTIS

Science  28 Oct 2011:
Vol. 334, Issue 6055, pp. 492-494
DOI: 10.1126/science.1204062

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Abstract

The Visible, InfraRed, and Thermal Imaging Spectrometer (VIRTIS) on Rosetta obtained hyperspectral images, spectral reflectance maps, and temperature maps of the asteroid 21 Lutetia. No absorption features, of either silicates or hydrated minerals, have been detected across the observed area in the spectral range from 0.4 to 3.5 micrometers. The surface temperature reaches a maximum value of 245 kelvin and correlates well with topographic features. The thermal inertia is in the range from 20 to 30 joules meter−2 kelvin−1 second−0.5, comparable to a lunarlike powdery regolith. Spectral signatures of surface alteration, resulting from space weathering, seem to be missing. Lutetia is likely a remnant of the primordial planetesimal population, unaltered by differentiation processes and composed of chondritic materials of enstatitic or carbonaceous origin, dominated by iron-poor minerals that have not suffered aqueous alteration.

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