Surface properties of asteroids from mid-infrared observations and thermophysical modeling


The subject of this work is the physical characterization of asteroids, with an emphasis on the thermal inertia of near-Earth asteroids (NEAs). Thermal inertia governs the Yarkovsky effect, a non-gravitational force which significantly alters the orbits of asteroids up to ~20 km in diameter. Yarkovsky-induced drift is important in the assessment of the impact hazard which NEAs pose to Earth. Yet, very little has previously been known about the thermal inertia of small asteroids including NEAs.Observational and theoretical work is reported. The thermal emission of asteroids has been observed in the mid-infrared (5-35 æm) wavelength range using the Spitzer Space Telescope and the 3.0 m NASA Infrared Telescope Facility, IRTF; techniques have been established to perform IRTF observations remotely from Berlin. A detailed thermophysical model (TPM) has been developed and extensively tested; this is the first detailed TPM shown to be applicable to NEA data.
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