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Rotational variability on 16 Psyche at mid-infrared wavelengths

Presentation #107.07 in the session Asteroids: Future Mission Targets (Oral Presentation)

Published onOct 23, 2023
Rotational variability on 16 Psyche at mid-infrared wavelengths

Asteroid (16) Psyche is theorized to be an exposed iron core of an asteroid and is the target of the upcoming NASA Psyche mission. Recent observations of Psyche identified the presence of rotational heterogeneity, a fine-grained regolith, pyroxene, and hydrated minerals on its surface. We used the Faint Object infraRed CAmera for the SOFIA Telescope (FORCAST) to obtain rotationally resolved mid-infrared (MIR; 8.4-27.7 μm) spectroscopy of Psyche to explore its compositional heterogeneity and to assess its mineralogy. The observations covered 3.11 hours, 1.07 hours, and 0.85 hours of Psyche’s 4.196 hour rotation period, providing coverage of the entire equator, as well as one of the poles.

We combine the three nights of data to create a high signal to noise spectrum of Psyche. We use the Near-Earth Asteroid Thermal Model (NEATM) to model the thermal contribution and remove the thermally modeled flux to give an emissivity spectrum. We combine the individual spectra in increments (~10% of the rotation period) and compare to the average emissivity spectrum. We report a confirmation of rotational heterogeneity on Psyche based on MIR spectroscopy. With these spectra, we will quantify the amount of aqueous alteration based on features at 19 and 22 µm, and pyroxene based on features near 20 and 23 µm. We will combine this information with the shape model of the asteroid to make inferences about the composition and thermal inertia of particular areas.

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