Journal article

NIR spectral trends of HED meteorites: Can we discriminate between the magmatic evolution, mechanical mixing and observation geometry effects?

The Howardite-Eucrite-Diogenite (HED) suite is a family of differentiated meteorites that provide a unique opportunity to study the differentiation of small bodies. The likely parent-body of this meteorite group, (4) Vesta is presently under study by the Dawn mission, scrutinizing its surface in the visible and NIR infrared range. Here, we discuss how well the magmatic trends observed in HED might be retrieved from NIR spectroscopy, by studying laboratory spectra of 10 HED meteorites together with spectra from the RELAB database. We show that although an exsolution process did occur for most eucrites (i.e. decomposition of a primary calcic pyroxene into a high-Ca and low-Ca pyroxene), it does not affect the "bulk pyroxene" trend retrieved from the location of the pyroxene crystal field bands (Band I with a maximum of absorption around at about 1 mu m and Band II around 2 mu m). Absolute values of the chemical composition appears however to deviate from the expected chemical composition. We show that mechanical mixture (i.e. impact gardening) will produce a linear mixing in the pyroxenes band position diagram (Band I position vs Band II position). This diagram also reveals that howardite are not pure mixtures of an average eucrite and average diogenite. Because asteroid surfaces are expected to show topography, we also study the effect of observation geometry on the NIR spectra of an eucrite and a diogenite by measuring the bi-directional reflectance spectra from 0.4 to 4.6 mu m. Results show that these meteorites tend to act as forward scatterers, leading to a decrease of integrated band area (relative to the continuum) at high phase angles. The position of the two strong crystal field bands shows only small variability with observation geometry. Retrieval of the magmatic trends from the Band I vs Band II diagram should not be affected by observation geometry effects. Finally we performed NIR reflectance measurement on olivine diogenites. The presence of olivine can be suggested by using the Band Area Ratio vs Band I diagram, but this phase might affect the retrieval of pyroxene composition from the position of Band I and Band II. (C) 2011 Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.


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