WATER IN THE EARLY SOLAR SYSTEM: INFRARED STUDIES OF AQUEOUSLY ALTERED AND MINIMALLY PROCESSED ASTEROIDS
Sunshine, Jessica M
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This thesis investigates connections between low albedo asteroids and carbonaceous chondrite meteorites using spectroscopy. Meteorites and asteroids preserve information about the early solar system including accretion processes and parent body processes active on asteroids at these early times. One process of interest is aqueous alteration. This is the chemical reaction between coaccreted water and silicates producing hydrated minerals. Some carbonaceous chondrites have experienced extensive interactions with water through this process. Since these meteorites and their parent bodies formed close to the beginning of the Solar System, these asteroids and meteorites may provide clues to the distribution, abundance and timing of water in the Solar nebula at these times. Chapter 2 of this thesis investigates the relationships between extensively aqueously altered meteorites and their visible, near and mid-infrared spectral features in a coordinated spectral-mineralogical study. Aqueous alteration is a parent body process where initially accreted anhydrous minerals are converted into hydrated minerals in the presence of coaccreted water. Using samples of meteorites with known bulk properties, it is possible to directly connect changes in mineralogy caused by aqueous alteration with spectral features. Spectral features in the mid-infrared are found to change continuously with increasing amount of hydrated minerals or degree of alteration. Building on this result, the degrees of alteration of asteroids are estimated in a survey of new asteroid data obtained from SOFIA and IRTF as well as archived the Spitzer Space Telescope data. 75 observations of 73 asteroids are analyzed and presented in Chapter 4. Asteroids with hydrated minerals are found throughout the main belt indicating that significant ice must have been present in the disk at the time of carbonaceous asteroid accretion. Finally, some carbonaceous chondrite meteorites preserve amorphous iron-bearing materials that formed through disequilibrium condensation in the disk. These materials are readily destroyed in parent body processes so their presence indicates the meteorite/asteroid has undergone minimal parent body processes since the time of accretion. Presented in Chapter 3 is the spectral signature of meteorites that preserve significant amorphous iron-bearing materials and the identification of an asteroid, (93) Minerva, that also appears to preserve these materials.