AuthorRichardson Jr., James Edward
asteroid cratering records
AdvisorMelosh, Henry J.
Greenberg, Richard J.
Committee ChairMelosh, Henry J.
Greenberg, Richard J.
MetadataShow full item record
PublisherThe University of Arizona.
RightsCopyright © is held by the author. Digital access to this material is made possible by the University Libraries, University of Arizona. Further transmission, reproduction or presentation (such as public display or performance) of protected items is prohibited except with permission of the author.
AbstractImpact-induced seismic vibrations have long been suspected of being an important surface modification process on small satellites and asteroids. In this study, I use a series of linked seismic and geomorphic models to investigate the process in detail. I begin by developing a basic theory for the propagation of seismic energy in a highly fractured asteroid, and I use this theory to model the global vibrations experienced on the surface of an asteroid following an impact. These synthetic seismograms are then applied to a model of regolith resting on a slope, and the resulting downslope motion is computed for a full range of impactor sizes. Next, this computed downslope regolith flow is used in a morphological model of impact crater degradation and erasure, showing how topographic erosion accumulates as a function of time and the number of impacts. Finally, these results are applied in a stochastic cratering model for the surface of an Eros-like body (same volume and surface area as the asteroid), with craters formed by impacts and then erased by the effects of superposing craters, ejecta coverage, and seismic shakedown. This simulation shows good agreement with the observed 433 Eros cratering record at a Main Belt exposure age of $400 \pm 200$ Myr, including the observed paucity of small craters. The lowered equilibrium numbers (loss rate = production rate) for craters less than $\sim 100$ m in diameter is a direct result of seismic erasure, which requires less than a meter of mobilized regolith to reproduce the NEAR observations.This study also points to an upper limit on asteroid size for experiencing global, surface-modifying, seismic effects from individual impacts of about 70-100 km (depending upon asteroid seismic properties). Larger asteroids will experience only local seismic effects from individual impacts.In addition to the study of global seismic effects on asteroids, a chapter is also included which details the impact ejecta plume modeling I have done for the Deep Impact mission to the comet Tempel I. This work will also have direct application to impacts on asteroids, and will be used in the future to refine the cratering history modeling performed thus far.
Degree ProgramPlanetary Sciences
Degree GrantorUniversity of Arizona
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The Nucleus of Active Asteroid 311P/(2013 P5) PANSTARRSJewitt, David; Weaver, Harold; Mutchler, Max; Li, Jing; Agarwal, Jessica; Larson, Stephen; Univ Arizona, Lunar & Planetary Lab (IOP PUBLISHING LTD, 2018-06)The unique inner-belt asteroid 311P/PANSTARRS (formerly P/2013 P5) is notable for its sporadic, comet-like ejection of dust in nine distinct epochs spread over similar to 250 days in 2013. This curious behavior has been interpreted as the product of localized, equatorward landsliding from the surface of an asteroid rotating at the brink of instability. We obtained new Hubble Space Telescope observations to directly measure the nucleus and to search for evidence of its rapid rotation. We find a nucleus with mid-light absolute magnitude H-V = 19.14 +/- 0.02, corresponding to an equal-area circle with radius 190. +/-. 30 m (assuming geometric albedo p(V) = 0.29). However, instead of providing photometric evidence for rapid nucleus rotation, our data set a lower limit to the light-curve period, P >= 5.4 hr. The dominant feature of the light curve is a V-shaped minimum, similar to 0.3 mag deep, which is suggestive of an eclipsing binary. Under this interpretation, the time-series data are consistent with a secondary/ primary mass ratio, m(s)/m(p) similar to 1:6, a ratio of separation/primary radius, r/r(p) similar to 4 and an orbit period similar to 0.8 days. These properties lie within the range of other asteroid binaries that are thought to be formed by rotational breakup. While the light-curve period is long, centripetal dust ejection is still possible if one or both components rotate rapidly (less than or similar to 2 hr) and have small light-curve variation because of azimuthal symmetry. Indeed, radar observations of asteroids in critical rotation reveal " muffin-shaped" morphologies, which are closely azimuthally symmetric and which show minimal light curves. Our data are consistent with 311P being a close binary in which one or both components rotates near the centripetal limit. The mass loss in 2013 suggests that breakup occurred recently and could even be on-going. A search for fragments that might have been recently ejected beyond the Hill sphere reveals none larger than effective radius r(e) similar to 10 m.
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