Physical characterization of Warm Spitzer-observed near-Earth objects

Cristina A. Thomas, Joshua P. Emery, David E. Trilling, Marco Delbó, Joseph L. Hora, Michael Mueller

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

60 Scopus citations


Near-infrared spectroscopy of Near-Earth Objects (NEOs) connects diagnostic spectral features to specific surface mineralogies. The combination of spectroscopy with albedos and diameters derived from thermal infrared observations can increase the scientific return beyond that of the individual datasets. For instance, some taxonomic classes can be separated into distinct compositional groupings with albedo and different mineralogies with similar albedos can be distinguished with spectroscopy. To that end, we have completed a spectroscopic observing campaign to complement the ExploreNEOs Warm Spitzer program that obtained albedos and diameters of nearly 600 NEOs (Trilling, D.E. et al. [2010]. Astron. J. 140, 770-784. The spectroscopy campaign included visible and near-infrared observations of ExploreNEOs targets from various observatories. Here we present the results of observations using the low-resolution prism mode (~0.7-2.5. μm) of the SpeX instrument on the NASA Infrared Telescope Facility (IRTF). We also include near-infrared observations of ExploreNEOs targets from the MIT-UH-IRTF Joint Campaign for Spectral Reconnaissance. Our dataset includes near-infrared spectra of 187 ExploreNEOs targets (125 observations of 92 objects from our survey and 213 observations of 154 objects from the MIT survey). We identify a taxonomic class for each spectrum and use band parameter analysis to investigate the mineralogies for the S-, Q-, and V-complex objects. Our analysis suggests that for spectra that contain near-infrared data but lack the visible wavelength region, the Bus-DeMeo system misidentifies some S-types as Q-types. We find no correlation between spectral band parameters and ExploreNEOs albedos and diameters. We investigate the correlations of phase angle with Band Area Ratio and near-infrared spectral slope. We find slightly negative Band Area Ratio (BAR) correlations with phase angle for Eros and Ivar, but a positive BAR correlation with phase angle for Ganymed. The results of our phase angle study are consistent with those of (Sanchez, J.A., Reddy, V., Nathues, A., Cloutis, E.A., Mann, P., Hiesinger, H. [2012]. Icarus 220, 36-50., arXiv:1205.0248). We find evidence for spectral phase reddening for Eros, Ganymed, and Ivar. We identify the likely ordinary chondrite type analog for an appropriate subset of our sample. Our resulting proportions of H, L, and LL ordinary chondrites differ from those calculated for meteorite falls and in previous studies of ordinary chondrite-like NEOs.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)217-246
Number of pages30
StatePublished - Jan 15 2014


  • Asteroids
  • Asteroids, composition
  • Near-Earth objects
  • Spectroscopy

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Astronomy and Astrophysics
  • Space and Planetary Science


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