Mainbelt Asteroids: Dual-Polarization Radar Observations

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Science  02 Aug 1985:
Vol. 229, Issue 4712, pp. 442-446
DOI: 10.1126/science.229.4712.442


Observations of 20 asteroids in the main belt between Mars and Jupiter provide information about the nature of these objects' surfaces at centimeter-to-kilometer scales. At least one asteroid (Pallas) is extremely smooth at centimeter-to-meter scales. Each asteroid appears much rougher than the Moon at some scale between several meters and many kilometers. The range of asteroid radar albedos is very broad and implies substantial variations in porosity or metal concentration (or both). The highest albedo estimate, for the asteroid Psyche, is consistent with a surface having porosities typical of lunar soil and a composition nearly entirely metallic.