Physical properties of the stone meteorites: Implications for the properties of their parent bodies

1George J. Flynn, 2Guy J. Consolmagno, 3Peter Brown, 2Robert J. Macke
Chemie der Erde (in Press) Link to Article []
1Department of Physics, SUNY-Plattsburgh,101 Broad St., Plattsburgh, NY 12901, USA
2Vatican Observatory, V-00120, Vatican City State
3Department of Physics and Astronomy and Centre for Planetary Science and Exploration, University of Western Ontario, London, N6A 3K7, ON, Canada
Copyright Elsevier

The physical properties of the stone meteorites provide important clues to understanding the formation and physical evolution of material in the Solar protoplanetary disk as well providing indications of the properties of their asteroidal parent bodies. Knowledge of these properties is essential for modeling a number of Solar System processes, such as bolides in planetary atmospheres, the thermal inertia of atmosphereless solid body surfaces, and the internal physical and thermal evolution of asteroids and rock-rich icy bodies. In addition, insight into the physical properties of the asteroids is important for the design of robotic and crewed reconnaissance, lander, and sample return spacecraft missions to the asteroids. One key property is meteorite porosity, which ranges from 0% to more than 40%, similar to the range of porosities seen in asteroids. Porosity affects many of the other physical properties including thermal conductivity, speed of sound, deformation under stress, strength, and response to impact. As a result of the porosity, the properties of most stone meteorites differ significantly from those of compact terrestrial rocks, whose physical properties have been used in many models of asteroid behavior. A few physical properties, such as grain density, magnetic susceptibility, and heat capacity are not functions of porosity. Taken together, the grain density and the magnetic susceptibility can be used to classify unweathered or minimally weathered ordinary chondrites. This provides a rapid screening technique to identify heterogeneous samples, classify new samples, and identify misclassified meteorites or interlopers in strewn fields.


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