Spectroscopy of K-complex asteroids: Parent bodies of carbonaceous meteorites?

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This is the first focused study of non-Eos K asteroids. We have observed a total of 30 K-complex objects (12 K-2 Sk- and 13 Xk-type asteroids (from the Bus taxonomy), plus 3 K-candidates from previous work) and we present an analysis of their spectral properties from 0.4 to 2.5 μm. We targeted these asteroids because their previous observations are spectrally similar enough to suggest a possible compositional relationship. All objects have exhibited spectral redness in the visible wavelengths and minor absorptions near 1 micron. If, as suggested, K-complex asteroids (including K, Xk, and Sk) are the parent bodies of carbonaceous meteorites, knowledge of K-asteroid properties and distribution is essential to our understanding of the cosmochemical importance of some of the most primitive meteorite materials in our collection. This paper presents initial results of our analysis of telescopic data, with supporting analysis of laboratory measurements of meteorite analogs. Our results indicate that K-complex asteroids are distinct from other main belt asteroid types (S, B, C, F, and G). They do not appear to be a subset of these other types. K asteroids nearly span the range of band center positions and geometric albedos exhibited by the carbonaceous chondrites (CO, CM, CV, CH, CK, CR, and CI). We find that B-, C-, F- and G-type asteroids tend to be darker than meteorites, and can have band centers longer than any of the chondrites measured here. This could indicate that K-complex asteroids are better spectral analogues for the majority of our carbonaceous meteorites than the traditional B-, C-, F- and G-matches suggested in the literature. This paper present first results of our ongoing survey to determine K-type mineralogy, meteorite linkages, and significance to the geology of the asteroid regions. © 2009 Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.

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