Hungaria asteroid region telescopic spectral survey (HARTSS) I: Stony asteroids abundant in the Hungaria background population

Michael P. Lucas, Joshua P. Emery, Noemi Pinilla-Alonso, Sean S. Lindsay, Vania Lorenzi

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

18 Scopus citations


The Hungaria asteroids remain as survivors of late giant planet migration that destabilized a now extinct inner portion of the primordial asteroid belt and left in its wake the current resonance structure of the Main Belt. In this scenario, the Hungaria region represents a “purgatory” for the closest, preserved samples of the asteroidal material from which the terrestrial planets accreted. Deciphering the surface composition of these unique samples may provide constraints on the nature of the primordial building blocks of the terrestrial planets. We have undertaken an observational campaign entitled the Hungaria Asteroid Region Telescopic Spectral Survey (HARTSS) to record near-infrared (NIR) reflectance spectra in order to characterize their taxonomy, surface mineralogy, and potential meteorite analogs. The overall objective of HARTSS is to evaluate the compositional diversity of asteroids located throughout the Hungaria region. This region harbors a collisional family of Xe-type asteroids, which are situated among a background (i.e., non-family) of predominantly S-complex asteroids. In order to assess the compositional diversity of the Hungaria region, we have targeted background objects during Phase I of HARTSS. Collisional family members likely reflect the composition of one original homogeneous parent body, so we have largely avoided them in this phase. We have employed NIR instruments at two ground-based telescope facilities: the NASA Infrared Telescope Facility (IRTF), and the Telescopio Nazionale Galileo (TNG). Our data set includes the NIR spectra of 42 Hungaria asteroids (36 background; 6 family). We find that stony S-complex asteroids dominate the Hungaria background population (29/36 objects; ∼80%). C-complex asteroids are uncommon (2/42; ∼5%) within the Hungaria region. Background S-complex objects exhibit considerable spectral diversity as band parameter measurements of diagnostic absorption features near 1- and 2-µm indicate that several different S-subtypes are represented therein, which translates to a variety of surface compositions. We identify the Gaffey S-subtype (Gaffey et al. [1993]. Icarus 106, 573–602) and potential meteorite analogs for 24 of these S-complex background asteroids. Additionally, we estimate the olivine and orthopyroxene mineralogy for 18 of these objects using spectral band parameter analysis established from laboratory-based studies of ordinary chondrite meteorites. Nine of the asteroids have band parameters that are not consistent with ordinary chondrites. We compared these to the band parameters measured from laboratory VIS+NIR spectra of six primitive achondrite (acapulcoite-lodranite) meteorites. These comparisons suggest that two main meteorite groups are represented among the Hungaria background asteroids: unmelted, nebular L- (and possibly LL-ordinary chondrites), and partially-melted primitive achondrites of the acapulcoite-lodranite meteorite clan. Our results suggest a source region for L chondrite like material from within the Hungarias, with delivery to Earth via leakage from the inner boundary of the Hungaria region. H chondrite like mineralogies appear to be absent from the Hungaria background asteroids. We therefore conclude that the Hungaria region is not a source for H chondrite meteorites. Seven Hungaria background asteroids have spectral band parameters consistent with partially-melted primitive achondrites, but the probable source region of the acapulcoite-lodranite parent body remains inconclusive. If the proposed connection with the Hungaria family to fully-melted enstatite achondrite meteorites (i.e., aubrites) is accurate (Gaffey et al. [1992]. Icarus 100, 95–109; Kelley and Gaffey [2002]. Meteorit. Planet. Sci. 37, 1815–1827), then asteroids in the Hungaria region exhibit a full range of petrologic evolution: from nebular, unmelted ordinary chondrites, through partially-melted primitive achondrites, to fully-melted igneous aubrite meteorites.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)268-287
Number of pages20
StatePublished - Jul 15 2017
Externally publishedYes


  • Asteroids
  • Aubrites, Asteroid taxonomy
  • H chondrites, L chondrites, LL chondrites
  • Hungaria asteroids
  • Lodranites
  • Near-infrared spectroscopy
  • Ordinary chondrites
  • Primitive achondrites, Acapulcoites
  • Surface mineralogy

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Astronomy and Astrophysics
  • Space and Planetary Science


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