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Preservation of ice on main-belt and near-earth asteroids

Presentation #509.01 in the session “Asteroids: NEOs Physical Properties 3 - volatiles and composition”.

Published onOct 26, 2020
Preservation of ice on main-belt and near-earth asteroids

Many asteroids in the Outer Main Belt may be ice-rich. We model temperature and sublimation-driven ice loss for asteroids originating from the Outer Main Belt as they become near-Earth asteroids (NEAs) or evolve onto orbits typical of Jupiter Family Comets (JFCs), based on ensembles of trajectories from N-body integrations and a model with asynchronous coupling. The majority of ice loss occurs long before an asteroid reaches a NEA- or JFC-like orbit. Factors that favour ice retention are evaluated quantitatively: orbital configuration, thermal inertia, dynamical age, and axis tilt. The least ice loss occurs at the polar regions of bodies with small axis tilt. The polar regions of these bodies remain so cold that ice does not retreat beyond the influence of the seasonal thermal wave (often <5 m) by the time the objects have reached NEA- or JFC-like orbits. Hence, there is a pathway for ice-rich asteroids, such as members of the Themis family, to have retained water ice that could ultimately cause cometary activity or be used for in situ resource utilization (ISRU). Further information is available at doi:10.1016/j.icarus.2020.113865 and doi:10.1029/2018JE005568

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