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Geology of the flyby targets for the Emirates Mission to the Asteroid Belt

Presentation #107.02 in the session Asteroids: Future Mission Targets (Oral Presentation)

Published onOct 23, 2023
Geology of the flyby targets for the Emirates Mission to the Asteroid Belt

The UAE’s Emirates Mission to Explore the Asteroid Belt is going to explore seven asteroids in the Main Belt (MB) in a series of flybys from 2030 to 2033 culminating with a rendezvous phase at (269) Justitia in 2034. The list of candidate flyby targets includes a wide variety of bodies that will provide context for Justitia as well as additional data points to the list of bodies in the MB that have been explored before. In this meeting, we plan to present our target bodies in more detail and discuss preliminary features of interest in each of them taking into account our current navigational and observational constraints. Prior to arriving at Justitia, EMA would fly by six targets (in order of investigating): Westerwald (~2.2 km-wide), Chimaera (44 km-wide), Rockox (~5.2 km-wide), 88055 (~5.4 km-wide), 23871 (~6.8 km-wide), and 599980 (~8 km-wide). Except for Chimaera, the flyby targets are only a few km in size. Nevertheless, our navigational plan and capabilities should allow us to characterize the surfaces of these bodies down to the few meters-scale, which would allow is to characterize overall surface morphology, impact density and morphology, lineaments, and possibly boulders. Given that a number of our targets are thought to be part of collisional families, we plan to explore the role of collisions in shaping up the surfaces of small bodies in the MB, and how they compare to Near-Earth Asteroids (NEAs) that have been pervasively fragmented and re-accreted to form “rubble piles”. In addition, it is possible (arguably expected) that at least a subset of our targets, especially ones from collisional families, are going to have moonlets (e.g., asteroid Ida and its moon Dactyl). Characterizing such systems would allow us to place better constraints on their dynamical evolution, as well as their bulk properties (i.e., mass and density measurements).

Finally, combined geological and spectral analysis should also help us explore the potential links between our targets and certain NEAs, as well as meteorites. For instance, Chimaera could be the source of NEAs (including Ryugu) as well as meteorites (e.g., CM2 carbonaceous chondrite Murchison).

Acknowledgments: MRELM acknowledges support from KU’s grant (8474000336-KU-SPSC). Funding for the co-development of the Emirates Mission to Explore the Asteroid Belt is provided by the United Arab Emirates Space Agency.

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