Identifying meteorite source regions through near-Earth object spectroscopy

Cristina A. Thomas, Richard P. Binzel

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

30 Scopus citations


By virtue of their landing on Earth, meteorites reside in near-Earth object (NEO) orbits prior to their arrival. Thus the population of observable NEOs, in principle, gives important representation of meteorite source bodies. By linking meteorites to NEOs, and linking NEOs to their most likely main-belt source locations, we seek to gain insight into the original Solar System formation locations for different meteorite classes. To forge possible links between meteorites and NEOs, we have developed a three dimensional method for quantitative comparisons between laboratory measurements of meteorites and telescopic measurements of near-Earth objects. We utilize meteorite spectra from the Reflectance Experiment Laboratory (RELAB) database and NEO data from the SpeX instrument on the NASA Infrared Telescope Facility (IRTF). Using the Modified Gaussian Model (MGM) as a mathematical tool, we treat asteroid and meteorite spectra identically in the calculation of 1-μm and 2-μm Geometric Band Centers and their Band Area Ratios (BARs). Using these identical numerical parameters we quantitatively compare the spectral properties of S-, Sq-, Q- and V-type NEOs with the spectral properties of the meteorites in four classes: H, L, LL and HED. For each NEO spectrum, we assign a set of probabilities for it being related to each of these four meteorite classes. Our NEO-meteorite correlation probabilities are then convolved with NEO-source region probabilities to yield a final set of meteorite-source region correlations. While the ν6 resonance dominates the delivery for all four meteorite classes, an excess (significant at the 2.1-sigma level) source region signature is found for the H chondrites through the 3:1 mean motion resonance. This results suggest an H chondrite source with a higher than average delivery preference through the 3:1 resonance. A 3:1 resonance H chondrite source region is consistent with the short cosmic ray exposure ages known for H chondrites.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)419-429
Number of pages11
Issue number2
StatePublished - Feb 2010
Externally publishedYes


  • Asteroids
  • Meteorites
  • Near-Earth objects
  • Spectroscopy

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Astronomy and Astrophysics
  • Space and Planetary Science


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