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Small main-belt asteroid spectroscopic survey: Initial resultsThe spectral characterization of small asteroids is important for understanding the evolution of their compositional and mineralogical properties. We report the results of a CCD spectroscopic survey of small main-belt asteroids which we call the Small Main-belt Asteroid Spectroscopic Survey (SMASS). Spectra of 316 asteroids were obtained, with wavelength coverage ranging from 4000 to 10000 A (0.4 to 1 micrometers). More than half of the objects in our survey have diameters less than 20 km. Survey results include the identification of the first object resembling ordinary chondrite meteorites among the main-belt asteroids (Binzel, R. P., et al, 1993) and observations of more than 20 asteroids showing basaltic achondrite spectral absorption features that strongly link Vesta as the parent body for the basaltic achondrite meteorites (Binzel, R. P., and S. Xu 1993). A potential Mars-crossing asteroid analog to ordinary chondrite meteorites (H chondrites), 2078 Nanking, is reported here. Through a principal component analysis, we have assigned classifications to the members of our sample. The majority of the small main-belt asteroids belong to S and C classes, similar to large asteroids. Our analysis shows that two new classes are justified which we label as J and O. Small asteroids display more diversity in spectral absorption features than the larger ones, which may indicate a greater variation of compositions in the small asteroid population. We found a few candidates for olivine-rich asteroids within the S class. Although the total number of olivine-rich candidates is relatively small, we present evidence suggesting that such objects are more prevalent at smaller sizes.
Document ID
Document Type
Reprint (Version printed in journal)
External Source(s)
Xu, Shui
(MIT, Cambridge, MA United States)
Binzel, Richard P.
(MIT, Cambridge, MA United States)
Burbine, Thomas H.
(MIT, Cambridge, MA United States)
Bus, Schelte J.
(MIT, Cambridge, MA United States)
Date Acquired
August 16, 2013
Publication Date
May 1, 1995
Publication Information
Publication: Icarus
Volume: 115
Issue: 1
ISSN: 0019-1035
Subject Category
Lunar And Planetary Exploration
Accession Number
Funding Number(s)
Distribution Limits

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