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Journal Articles Icarus Year : 2022

Evidence for widely-separated binary asteroids recorded by craters on Mars

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Over the last decades, a significant number of small asteroids (diameter <10 km) having a satellite in orbit around them have been discovered. This population of binary asteroids has very specific properties (secondary-to-primary diameter ratio of about 0.3, semi-major axis to primary diameter ratio around 2 and an obliquity of the system close to either 0∘ or 180∘) pointing at formation by YORP-induced spin-up and rotational fission. When impacting the surface of terrestrial bodies, those exotic objects lead to the formation of binary craters, exhibiting various morphologies depending on the configuration of the system at the moment of the impact. Planetary surfaces constitutes therefore the best (if not the only one) record of binary asteroid population through time. In contrast to the Moon or Mercury, a large fraction of impact craters on Mars exhibits thick ejecta layers due to the presence of volatile material at the moment of the impact (e.g., water ice). The martian surface represents thus the ideal case to survey for the existence of binary craters, as the ejecta morphology can attest of a synchronous impact. From a survey of 87% of Mars surface, we identify 150 binary craters (0.5% of the total), likely formed by the impact of binary asteroids. The properties of these craters contrast with those of the population of binary asteroids: size ratio close to unity, large separation, and isotropic orientation on the surface. We run numerical simulations of impacts to test whether tidal effects on the impact trajectory can explain these discrepancies. Our results suggest that a population of similarly-sized and well-separated binary asteroids with non-zero obliquity remains to be observed.
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Dates and versions

insu-03682333 , version 1 (09-11-2022)



Dmitrii E. Vavilov, Benoit Carry, Anthony Lagain, Anthony Guimpier, Susan Conway, et al.. Evidence for widely-separated binary asteroids recorded by craters on Mars. Icarus, 2022, 383, ⟨10.1016/j.icarus.2022.115045⟩. ⟨insu-03682333⟩
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