Space Weathering of FeS Induced via Pulsed Laser Irradiation

1B. S. Prince,1M. P. Magnuson,2L. C. Chaves,2M. S. Thompson,3,4M. J. Loeffler
Journal of Geophysical Research (Planets) (in Press) Link to Article [https://doi.org/10.1029/2019JE006242]
1Department of Physics and Astronomy, Northern Arizona University, Flagstaff, AZ, USA
2Department of Earth, Atmospheric, and Planetary Sciences, Purdue University, West Lafayette, IN, USA
3Department of Physics and Astronomy, Northern Arizona University, Flagstaff, AZ, USA4Center for Materials Interfaces in Research and Applications, Northern Arizona University, Flagstaff, AZ, USA
Published by arrangement with John Wiley & Sons

Here we present results from pulsed laser irradiation of troilite samples in an effort to simulate space weathering on airless bodies via micrometeorite impacts. We find that the spectral trends observed in directly irradiated samples and samples with a vapor‐deposited coating are different than those found in silicate minerals previously studied. For instance, direct laser irradiation causes our troilite samples to initially brighten, but continued irradiation causes darkening and a decrease in spectral slope. In contrast, our samples with a vapor‐deposited coating show a continuous increase in spectral slope and overall albedo as the deposit thickness increases. Observation using both digital imaging and electron microscopy of our directly irradiated samples leads us to conclude that topography effects likely become important after a relatively high number of laser pulses in our directly irradiated samples, causing the apparent darkening and decrease in spectral slope. Thus, we conclude that the spectral changes observed relevant to space weathering via micrometeorite impacts are an increase in spectral slope and an increase in the albedo of troilite. Future studies will investigate whether these trends are generally representative of other sulfide‐bearing minerals and of weathering trends in other components found in the asteroid regolith.

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