Third day of the 2012 AGU Fall Meeting tomorrow, Wednesday December 5, and I anticipate another busy day. Julie Castillo from Jet Propulsion Laboratory and myself organized a session on the internal structure and composition of small solar system bodies (SSSBs). This session will give us an opportunity to discuss recent results on the compositions and physical properties of asteroids and comets.  The discussion and results should be new since our view on the internal structure of SSSBs has changed drastically over the past decade thanks to the exploration with spacecrafts and the discovery of satellites around several asteroids.

Possible asteroid internal structures by Walkers et al. (Advances in Space Research Volume 37, Issue 1, 2006, Pages 142–152)

Since Small Solar System Bodies (SSSBs) are remnant of the formation of our solar system, hence constraints on their composition and physical properties are key components for the understanding of the formation and evolution of our solar system. The increase of our knowledge on the chemistry and physics of SSSBs is also necessary in order to prepare for robotic and human exploration, through a better understanding of surface properties and the identification of potential in situ resources (“mining an asteroid”). Hints about the internal structure and composition of SSSBs have been acquired recently thanks to flyby and rendezvous data from recent space missions, study of multiple asteroid system mutual orbits, or close encounter perturbations between asteroids.

In this session, we collected papers discussing the internal structure and composition of SSSBs based on space and ground-based observations, numerical models, laboratory research, as well as new instruments and mission concepts in the prospect of future exploration.

There will be  a poster session (P31A) scheduled in the morning at Moscone South with 13 abstracts listed below. Most of them are available as an electronic poster and will be stored on the AGU web site for a while. Each ePoster includes a discussion board which can be used to interact with the author; the author can also use the board to provide additional information about the research.

P31A. P31A. Internal Structure and Composition of Small Solar System Bodies I Posters
Convener(s): Franck Marchis (Carl Sagan Center) and Julie Castillo
8:00 AM – 12:20 PM; Hall A-C (Moscone South)

P31A-1873. Internal Structure of 4179 Toutatis (eposter)
Michael Busch; Yu Takahashi; Daniel J. Scheeres; Lance Benner; Christopher Magri; Jean-Luc Margot; Michael C. Nolan; Jon D. Giorgini

P31A-1874. Models of Ceres’ Surface as a Function of Origin and Evolution Scenarios (eposter)
Julie C. Castillo; Elizabeth Frank; Kevin Grazier; Carol A. Raymond

P31A-1875. Asteroid Geophysics through a Tidal-BYORP Equilibrium (eposter)
Seth A. Jacobson; Daniel J. Scheeres

P31A-1876. Ordinary Chondrite Spectral Signatures in the 243 Ida Asteroid System (eposter)
James C. Granahan

P31A-1877. FUV spectroscopy of the comet C/2001 Q4 (NEAT) with FIMS (eposter)
Yeo-Myeong Lim; Kyoung W. Min; Wonyong Han; Jerry Edelstein

P31A-1878. Toward a taxonomy of asteroid spectra in the 3-µm region (eposter)
Andrew Rivkin; Ellen S. Howell; Joshua P. Emery; Eric L. Volquardsen; Francesca E. DeMeo

P31A-1879. Trace elements record complex histories in diogenites (eposter)
Joseph B. Balta; Andrew W. Beck; Harry Y. McSween

P31A-1880. Large Quantities of Melt-Quenched Impact Spherules in Late Pleistocene Alaskan and Yukon “Muck” Deposits (eposter)
Jonathan T. Hagstrum; Richard B. Firestone; Allen West; James C. Weaver; Ted E. Bunch; David R. Kimbel

P31A-1881. AIDA: Asteroid Impact & Deflection Assessment (eposter)
Andrew F. Cheng; Andres Galvez; Ian Carnelli; Partrick Michel; Andrew Rivkin; Cheryl Reed

P31A-1882. Science-Driven NanoSats Design for Deep Space (eposter)
Andrew T. Klesh; Julie C. Castillo

P31A-1883. Planetary In Situ Sample Analysis with Tandem Two-Step Laser Mass Spectrometry (eposter)
William B. Brinckerhoff; Stephanie A. Getty; Timothy J. Cornish; Scott A. Ecelberger; Xiang Li; Melissa A. Merrill Floyd; Ricardo Arevalo; Jamie Elsila; Michael P. Callahan

P31A-1884. Optimizing Decadal and Precursor Science on Small Solar System Bodies with Spacecraft/Rover Hybrids (eposter)
Marco Pavone; Julie C. Castillo; Jeffrey A. Hoffman; Issa A. Nesnas; Nathan J. Strange

P31A-1885. A Sustainable Architecture for Lunar Resource Prospecting from an EML-based Exploration Platform (eposter)
Kurt Klaus; Kevin Post; Samuel J. Lawrence

In the afternoon, an oral session of 9 talks is scheduled in room 2007 at Moscone West. This session includes a few review talks on the interior of comets, composition of Phobos and Deimos, a summary of the results from the Dawn mission who orbited (4) Vesta, and the composition of (1) Ceres. We will also discuss the internal structure of rubble pile and multiple asteroids, and new techniques to explore asteroids in the near future.

P34A. P34A. Internal Structure and Composition of Small Solar System Bodies II
Convener(s): Franck Marchis (Carl Sagan Center) and Julie Castillo
4:00 PM – 6:00 PM; 2007 (Moscone West)

4:00 PM – 4:15 PM P34A-01. High Resolution 3D Radar Imaging of Comet Interiors (Invited)
Erik I. Asphaug; Yonggyu Gim; Michael Belton; John Brophy; Paul R. Weissman; Essam Heggy

4:15 PM – 4:30 PM P34A-02. Spectral Constraints on the Internal Characteristics of Phobos and Deimos (Invited)
Scott L. Murchie; Abigail A. Fraeman; Raymond E. Arvidson; Andrew Rivkin; Teck H. Choo; David C. Humm; Richard V. Morris

4:30 PM – 4:45 PM P34A-03. Exploring New Worlds: Dawn at Vesta (Invited)
Carol A. Raymond; Christopher T. Russell; Sami Asmar; Maria Cristina De Sanctis; Ralf Jaumann; Alex S. Konopliv; Harry Y. McSween; Andreas Nathues; Ryan S. Park; Thomas H. Prettyman; David E. Smith; Maria T. Zuber; Anton Ermakov

4:45 PM – 5:00 PM P34A-04. The Composition of the Dwarf Planet Ceres (Invited)
Andrew Rivkin; Jian Y. Li; Ralph E. Milliken; Lucy F. Lim; Amy Lovell; Britney E. Schmidt; Lucy A. McFadden

5:00 PM – 5:12 PM P34A-05. The Strength of Rubble Pile Asteroids
Daniel J. Scheeres; Paul Sanchez

5:12 PM – 5:24 PM P34A-06. Spin-up and re-shaping by the YORP effect: What are binary asteroids telling us about their internal structure?
Kevin J. Walsh; Derek Richardson; Patrick Michel

5:24 PM – 5:36 PM P34A-07. Mutual Orbits, Size, Density, and Interior of Visualized Multiple Asteroids
Franck Marchis; Frederic Vachier; Josef Durech; Jerome Berthier; Josef Hanus

5:36 PM – 5:48 PM P34A-08. Gaps to “Working” on the Surface of Small Bodies
Julie Bellerose

5:48 PM – 6:00 PM P34A-09. In Situ Techniques for Mineralogy and Geochemistry of Small Bodies
Jordana Blacksberg; George R. Rossman; Christopher R. Webster

There are several missions aiming at exploring and bringing samples from an asteroid in the next decade (e.g JAXA mission Hayabusa 2, NASA mission OSIRIS-Rex, ESA mission Marco-PoloR, Brazilian mission ASTER). Several private companies are also developing projects to explore and mine asteroids (e.g. Planetary Resources). NASA Human exploration program also aims at landing humans on the surface of an asteroid by 2025 as a precursor to a human mission to Mars.

There is no doubt that asteroid exploration is getting a lot of attention recently. Come and join us to discuss the science goals, recent findings, and outstanding questions in the innovative and dynamic field of small solar system bodies.

Clear skies

Franck Marchis

Mining an asteroid. Is that our future?

Comments (3)

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