Phase angle effects on 3 μm absorption band on ceres: Implications for Dawn mission

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Phase angle-induced spectral effects are important to characterize since they affect spectral band parameters such as band depth and band center, and therefore skew mineralogical interpretations of planetary bodies via reflectance spectroscopy. Dwarf planet (1) Ceres is the next target of NASA's Dawn mission, which is expected to arrive in 2015 March. The visible and near-infrared mapping spectrometer (VIR) on board Dawn has the spatial and spectral range to characterize the surface between 0.25-5.0 μm. Ceres has an absorption feature at 3.0 μm due to hydroxyl- and/or water-bearing minerals. We analyzed phase angle-induced spectral effects on the 3 μm absorption band on Ceres using spectra measured with the long-wavelength cross-dispersed (LXD: 1.9-4.2 μm) mode of the SpeX spectrograph/imager at the NASA Infrared Telescope Facility. Ceres LXD spectra were measured at different phase angles ranging from 0.°7 to 22°. We found that the band center slightly increases from 3.06 μm at lower phase angles (0.°7 and 6°) to 3.07 μm at higher phase angles (11° and 22°), the band depth decreases by ∼20% from lower phase angles to higher phase angles, and the band area decreases by ∼25% from lower phase angles to higher phase angles. Our results will have implications for constraining the abundance of OH on the surface of Ceres from VIR spectral data, which will be acquired by Dawn starting spring 2015.

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Astrophysical Journal Letters

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