A Direct Observation of the Asteroid’s Structure from Deep Interior to Regolith: Two Radars on the AIM Mission

Alain Herique 1, * Valérie Ciarletti 2, 3
* Corresponding author
2 ESTER - LATMOS
LATMOS - Laboratoire Atmosphères, Milieux, Observations Spatiales
3 IMPEC - LATMOS
LATMOS - Laboratoire Atmosphères, Milieux, Observations Spatiales
Abstract : The internal structure of asteroids is still poorly known and has never been measured directly. Our knowledge is relying entirely on inferences from remote sensing observations of the surface and theoretical modeling. Is the body a monolithic piece of rock or a rubble-pile, an aggregate of boulders held together by gravity and how much porosity it contains, both in the form of micro-scale or macro-scale porosi-ty? What is the typical size of the constituent blocs? Are these blocs homogeneous or heterogeneous? The body is covered by a regolith whose properties remain largely unknown in term of depth, size distribution and spatial variation. Is it resulting from fine particles re-accretion or from thermal fracturing? What are its coherent forces? How to model its thermal conductivity, while this parameter is so important to estimate Yar-kowsky and Yorp effects? After several asteroid orbiting missions, theses crucial and yet basic questions remain open. Direct measurements of asteroid deep interior and regolith structure are needed to better understand the asteroid accretion and dynamical evolution and to provide answers that will directly improve our ability to understand and model the mechanisms driving Near Earth Asteroids (NEA) deflection and other risk mitigation techniques. There is no way to determine this from ground-based observation. Radar operating from a spacecraft is the only technique capable of achieving this science objective of characterizing the internal structure and hetero-geneity from submetric to global scale for the benefit of science as well as for planetary defence or exploration
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Alain Herique, Valérie Ciarletti. A Direct Observation of the Asteroid’s Structure from Deep Interior to Regolith: Two Radars on the AIM Mission. 47th Lunar and Planetary Science Conference, Mar 2016, The Woodlands, Texas, United States. pp.2096. ⟨insu-01282911⟩

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