Laboratory simulations of sulfur depletion at Eros

M. J. Loeffler, C. A. Dukes, W. Y. Chang, L. A. McFadden, R. A. Baragiola

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

36 Scopus citations


The X-ray spectrometer of the Near-Earth Asteroid Rendezvous (NEAR) mission discovered a low abundance of sulfur on the surface of asteroid Eros, which is seemingly inconsistent with the match of the overall surface composition to that of ordinary chondrites. Since troilite, FeS, is the primary sulfur-bearing mineral in ordinary chondrites, we investigated the hypothesis that sulfur loss from surface FeS could result from 'space weathering' by impact of solar wind ions and micrometeorites. We performed laboratory studies on the chemical alteration of FeS by 4 keV ions simulating exposure to the solar wind and by nanosecond laser pulses simulating pulsed heating by micrometeorite impact. We found that the combination of laser irradiation followed by ion impact lowers the S:Fe atomic ratio on the surface by a factor of up to 2.5, which is consistent with the value of at least 1.5 deduced from the NEAR measurements. Thus, our results support the hypothesis that the low abundance of sulfur at the surface of Eros is caused by space weathering.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)622-629
Number of pages8
Issue number2
StatePublished - Jun 2008
Externally publishedYes


  • Asteroid Eros
  • Asteroids
  • Experimental techniques
  • Impact processes
  • Near-Earth objects

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Astronomy and Astrophysics
  • Space and Planetary Science


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