Near-IR reflectance spectroscopy of 433 Eros from the NIS instrument on the NEAR mission. I. Low phase angle observations

J. F. Bell, N. I. Izenberg, P. G. Lucey, B. E. Clark, C. Peterson, M. J. Gaffey, J. Joseph, B. Carcich, A. Harch, M. E. Bell, J. Warren, P. D. Martin, L. A. McFadden, D. Wellnitz, S. Murchie, M. Winter, J. Veverka, P. Thomas, M. S. Robinson, M. MalinA. Cheng

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From February 13 to May 13, 2000, the near-infrared spectrometer (NIS) instrument on the Near Earth Asteroid Rendezvous (NEAR) spacecraft obtained more than 200,000 spatially resolved 800- to 2500-nm reflectance spectra of the S-type asteroid 433 Eros. An important subset of the spectra was obtained during a unique opportunity on February 13 and 14, when the NEAR spacecraft flew directly through the 0° phase angle point between Eros and the Sun just prior to the orbital insertion maneuver. This low phase flyby (LPF) dataset consists of ∼2000 spectra of the northern hemisphere of Eros, obtained from 1° to 47° phase angle and at spatial resolutions of between 6 × 12 km to 1.25 × 2.50 km per spectrum. The spectra were calibrated to radiance factor (I/F, where I = observed radiance and πF = solar input radiance) and then photometrically corrected to normal albedo. The average northern hemisphere spectrum of Eros is similar to the asteroid's unresolved telescopic spectrum and exhibits absorption features near 1000 nm (Band I) and 2000 nm (Band II) consistent with an orthopyroxene to orthopyroxene + olivine (opx + ol) mixing ratio of approximately 0.38 ± 0.08. The ensemble of NIS LPF spectra falls primarily within the S(IV) to upper S(III) fields of the Gaffey et al. (1993) S-asteroid classification scheme and exhibits Band I and Band II properties similar to those of ordinary chondrite meteorites. While some small spatially coherent spectral variations have been detected, neither the opx/(opx + ol) mixing ratio nor other spectral parameters vary spatially by more than ∼σ across the entire northern hemisphere of the asteroid, suggesting a remarkable homogeneity of the composition and mineralogy of the uppermost regolith. Spectral mixture modeling suggests that the presence of glass and/or a reddening agent like nanophase iron, likely formed from exposure of the regolith to the space environment, is a component of the surface of Eros. Reddening and darkening components could also explain the dissimilarity in overall spectral slope and albedo between Eros and other S(IV) asteroids and ordinary chondrite meteorites. The largest (but still weak) spectral variations across the surface are seen in the depths of Band I and Band II, which are greatest in and around the largest craters and at the 0° longitude "nose" of the asteroid, and in the Band II/Band I area ratio between the large impact craters Psyche and Himeros. These subtle NIS spectral variations are usually associated with albedo and surface slope variations seen in NEAR imaging and topographic data and appear to be related to downslope movement of regolith materials.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)119-144
Number of pages26
Issue number1
StatePublished - 2002
Externally publishedYes


  • Asteroids
  • Space missions
  • Spectroscopy
  • Surface composition

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Astronomy and Astrophysics
  • Space and Planetary Science


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