Physical, chemical, and petrological characteristics of chondritic materials and their relationships to small solar system bodies

Michael E. Zolensky, Neyda M. Abreu, Michael A. Velbel, Alan Rubin, Noel Chaumard, Takaaki Noguchi, Tatsuhiro Michikami

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingChapter

15 Scopus citations


Chondrite materials with varying abundances of volatile-bearing phases are expected at the destinations for the asteroid sample-return missions Hayabusa2 and OSIRIS-REx. The targets of the missions are 162173 (1999 JU3) Ryugu and 101955 (1999 RQ36) Bennu. Spectroscopic analyses of these asteroids suggest that their surface materials are related to types 1 and 2 carbonaceous chondrites (CCs). Some studies suggest that the parent bodies of these chondrites may have also experienced some thermal and/or shock metamorphism. The physical properties of boulders at asteroid surfaces and fine particles in asteroid regoliths are consequences of the diverse processes that fragmented them, mobilized them, and redeposited them in unique accumulations. Sample-return missions are likely to encounter a broad range of CC-like materials, to which aqueous alteration, thermal, and shock metamorphism imparted changes affecting their submicron- to meter-scale physical properties. Consequently, implementation of scale-dependent analytical techniques to the study of the chemical, physical, and geotechnical characteristics of these CC-like materials is fundamental to safe mission operations, sample selection, and return. However, most of the available knowledge for informing and formulating expectations about regolith processes, products, and properties on small carbonaceous bodies comes from missions that studied anhydrous (e.g., Itokawa studied by Hayabusa) and/or much larger asteroids (e.g., Vesta studied by Dawn). No previous mission is likely directly relevant to small ice-free carbonaceous near Earth objects 162173 Ryugu or 101955 Bennu, although the Rosetta Spacecraft performed a flyby of the large asteroid Lutetia, which has variously been classified as M and C type (Pätzold et al., 2011). CCs carry the best record of the history, distribution, and activity of water in the early solar system. Ordinary and enstatite chondrites carry only partial records, but these are still critical to understanding the full story. We will describe the records of water-rock interactions on asteroids, as recorded in these meteorites, with particular emphasis on the timing, nature, settings, and fluid compositions. An integral part of this story is the rare, but fortunate, preservation of actual early solar system water as aqueous fluid inclusions.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Title of host publicationPrimitive Meteorites and Asteroids
Subtitle of host publicationPhysical, Chemical, and Spectroscopic Observations Paving the Way to Exploration
Number of pages146
ISBN (Electronic)9780128133255
ISBN (Print)9780128133262
StatePublished - Jan 1 2018

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • General Earth and Planetary Sciences
  • General Engineering


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