Three-Dimensional Structure of Hayabusa Samples: Origin and Evolution of Itokawa Regolith

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Science  26 Aug 2011:
Vol. 333, Issue 6046, pp. 1125-1128
DOI: 10.1126/science.1207807

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Regolith particles on the asteroid Itokawa were recovered by the Hayabusa mission. Their three-dimensional (3D) structure and other properties, revealed by x-ray microtomography, provide information on regolith formation. Modal abundances of minerals, bulk density (3.4 grams per cubic centimeter), and the 3D textures indicate that the particles represent a mixture of equilibrated and less-equilibrated LL chondrite materials. Evidence for melting was not seen on any of the particles. Some particles have rounded edges. Overall, the particles’ size and shape are different from those seen in particles from the lunar regolith. These features suggest that meteoroid impacts on the asteroid surface primarily form much of the regolith particle, and that seismic-induced grain motion in the smooth terrain abrades them over time.

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