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Radar investigation of asteroidsThe number of radar detected asteroids has climbed from 6 to 40 (27 mainbelt plus 13 near-Earth). The dual-circular-polarization radar sample now comprises more than 1% of the numbered asteroids. Radar results for mainbelt asteroids furnish the first available information on the nature of these objects at macroscopic scales. At least one object (2 Pallas) and probably many others are extraordinarily smooth at centimeter-to-meter scales but are extremely rough at some scale between several meters and many kilometers. Pallas has essentially no small-scale structure within the uppermost several meters of the regolith, but the rms slope of this regolith exceeds 20 deg., much larger than typical lunar values (approx. 7 deg.). The origin of these slopes could be the hypervelocity impact cratering process, whose manifestations are likely to be different on low-gravity, low-radius-of-curvature objects from those on the terrestrial planets. The range of mainbelt asteroid radar albedoes is very broad and implies big variations in regolith porosity or metal concentration, or both. The highest albedo estimate, for 16 Psyche, is consistent with a surface having porosities typical of lunar soil and a composition nearly completely metallic. Therefore, Psyche might be the collisionally stripped core of a differentiated small plant, and might resemble mineralogically the parent bodies of iron meteorites.
Document ID
Document Type
Conference Paper
Ostro, S. J. (Jet Propulsion Lab., California Inst. of Tech. Pasadena, CA, United States)
Date Acquired
August 13, 2013
Publication Date
September 1, 1986
Publication Information
Publication: NASA, Washington Reports of Planetary Astronomy, 1985
Subject Category
Distribution Limits
Work of the US Gov. Public Use Permitted.
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