Spectral investigation of Ceres analogue mixtures: In-depth analysis of crater central peak material (ccp) on Ceres

1A.Galiano,1F.Dirri,1,2E.Palomba,1 A.Longobardo,3B.Schmitt,3P.Beck
Icarus (in Press) Link to Article [https://doi.org/10.1016/j.icarus.2020.113692]
1INAF-IAPS, Rome, Italy
2SSDC-ASI, Rome, Italy
3Université Grenoble Alpes, CNRS, IPAG, F-38000 Grenoble, France
Copyright Elsevier

The dwarf planet Ceres is an airless body composed of Mg-phyllosilicates, NH4-phyllosilicates, Mg/Ca-carbonates and a dark component. The subsurface of Ceres, investigated by the material composing the peak of complex craters (ccp, crater central peak material; Galiano et al., 2019), reveals a composition similar to the surface, with an increasing abundance of phyllosilicates in the interior. A moderate trend between age of craters’ formation and spectral slope of ccps suggests that younger ccps show a negative/blue slope and older ccps are characterized by positive/red slope. To investigate the causes of different spectral slope in ccps, different grain-sized Ceres analogue mixtures were produced and spectrally analysed. First, the end-members of the Ceres surface (using the antigorite as Mg-phyllosilicate, the NH4-montmorillonite as NH4-phyllosilicate, the dolomite as carbonate and the graphite as dark component), were mixed, obtaining mixtures with different relative abundance, and identifying the mixture with the reflectance spectrum most similar to the average Ceres spectrum. The selected mixture was reproduced with grain size of 0–25 μm, 25–50 μm and 50–100 μm. The three mixtures were heated and spectrally analysed, both with an acquisition temperature of 300 K (room temperature) and 200 K (typical for surface Ceres temperature during VIR observations).

The best analogue Ceres spectrum is coincident with a mixture composed of 18 M% (mass percentage) of Dolomite, 18 M% of Graphite, 36 M% of Antigorite and 28 M% of NH4-montmorillonite, after experiencing a heating process.

The heating process produces: 1) a darkening and reddening of spectrum, as consequence of the devolatilization of OH group in phyllosilicates and a more dominant effect of opaque phase; 2) a deepening in the intensity of the 3.4 and 4.0 μm band, as well as the 2.7 and the 3.1 μm band, likely due to the loss of absorbed atmospheric water; 3) narrowing of 3.1 μm band and the shift of band center toward longer wavelength (i.e. at 3.06 μm) coincident with mean Ceres spectrum, related to the loss of absorbed atmospheric water.

The analysis of the best Ceres analogue mixture, reproduced at different grain size and after heating process, reveals a weakening of 2.7, 3.1, 3.4 and 4.0 absorption bands in coarser samples, likely related to large size of dark grains which reduce the spectral contrast. Furthermore, spectra of coarser mixtures are more red-sloped, suggesting that this trend is more affected by the dark component.

The best analogue Ceres mixture produced in this work is almost coincident with the mean spectrum of Haulani ccp, the youngest ccps on Ceres and therefore representative of less altered material on Ceres.

The redder spectral slope observed in the older ccps is probably the consequence of the space weathering effects on the original material composing the peak.

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