Asteroid Vesta: Spectral Reflectivity and Compositional Implications

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Science  19 Jun 1970:
Vol. 168, Issue 3938, pp. 1445-1447
DOI: 10.1126/science.168.3938.1445


The spectral reflectivity (0.30 to 1.10 microns) of several asteroids has been measured for the first time. The reflection spectrum for Vesta contains a strong absorption band centered near 0.9 micron and a weaker absorption feature between 0.5 and 0.6 micron. The reflectivity decreases strongly in the ultraviolet. The reflection spectrum for the asteroid Pallas and probably for Ceres does not contain the 0.9-micron band. Vesta shows the strongest and best-defined absorption bands yet seen in the reflection spectrum for the solid surface of an object in the solar system. The strong 0.9-micron band arises from electronic absorptions in ferrous iron on the M2 site of a magnesian pyroxene. Comparison with laboratory measurements on meteorites and Apollo 11 samples indicates that the surface of Vesta has a composition very similar to that of certain basaltic achondrites.

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