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The cratering history of asteroid (21) Lutetia

Marchi, S. and Massironi, M. and Vincent, J.-B. and Morbidelli, A. and Mottola, S. and Marzari, F. and Küppers, M. and Besse, S. and Thomas, N. and Barbieri, C. and Naletto, G. and Sierks, H. (2012) The cratering history of asteroid (21) Lutetia. Planetary and Space Science (66), pp. 87-95. Elsevier. doi: 10.1016/j.pss.2011.10.010. ISSN 0032-0633.

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Official URL: http://dx.doi.org/10.1016/j.pss.2011.10.010


The European Space Agency's Rosetta spacecraft passed by the main belt asteroid (21) Lutetia on 10th July 2010. With its ∼100 km size, Lutetia is one of the largest asteroids ever imaged by a spacecraft. During the flyby, the on-board OSIRIS imaging system acquired spectacular images of Lutetia's northern hemisphere revealing a complex surface scarred by numerous impact craters, reaching the maximum dimension of about 55 km. In this paper, we assess the cratering history of the asteroid. For this purpose, we apply current models describing the formation and evolution of main belt asteroids, that provide the rate and velocity distributions of impactors. These models, coupled with appropriate crater scaling laws, allow us to interpret the observed crater size-frequency distribution (SFD) and constrain the cratering history. Thanks to this approach, we derive the crater retention age of several regions on Lutetia, namely the time lapsed since their formation or global surface reset. We also investigate the influence of various factors – like Lutetia's bulk structure and crater obliteration – on the observed crater SFDs and the estimated surface ages. From our analysis, it emerges that Lutetia underwent a complex collisional evolution, involving major local resurfacing events till recent times. The difference in crater density between the youngest and oldest recognized units implies a difference in age of more than a factor of 10. The youngest unit (Beatica) has an estimated age of tens to hundreds of Myr, while the oldest one (Achaia) formed during a period when the bombardment of asteroids was more intense than the current one, presumably around 3.6 Gyr ago or older.

Item URL in elib:https://elib.dlr.de/71833/
Document Type:Article
Title:The cratering history of asteroid (21) Lutetia
AuthorsInstitution or Email of AuthorsAuthor's ORCID iD
Marchi, S.Observatoire de la Cote d’AzurUNSPECIFIED
Massironi, M.Padova UniversityUNSPECIFIED
Vincent, J.-B.Max Planck Institute for Solar System ResearchUNSPECIFIED
Morbidelli, A.Observatoire de la Cote d’AzurUNSPECIFIED
Mottola, S.stefano.mottola (at) dlr.deUNSPECIFIED
Marzari, F.Padova UniversityUNSPECIFIED
Besse, S.Laboratoire d’Astrophysique de MarseilleUNSPECIFIED
Thomas, N.University of BernUNSPECIFIED
Barbieri, C.Padova UniversityUNSPECIFIED
Naletto, G.Padova UniversityUNSPECIFIED
Sierks, H.Max Planck Institute for Solar System ResearchUNSPECIFIED
Journal or Publication Title:Planetary and Space Science
Refereed publication:Yes
Open Access:No
Gold Open Access:No
In ISI Web of Science:Yes
Page Range:pp. 87-95
Keywords:Asteroid (21) Lutetia; Asteroid cratering; Asteroid evolution; Main belt asteroids
HGF - Research field:Aeronautics, Space and Transport (old)
HGF - Program:Space (old)
HGF - Program Themes:W EW - Erforschung des Weltraums
DLR - Research area:Space
DLR - Program:W EW - Erforschung des Weltraums
DLR - Research theme (Project):W - Projekt ROSETTA Instrumente (old)
Location: Berlin-Adlershof
Institutes and Institutions:Institute of Planetary Research > Asteroids and Comets
Deposited By: Mottola, Dr.phys. Stefano
Deposited On:19 Sep 2012 08:24
Last Modified:09 Dec 2022 11:10

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