The Rosetta spacecraft reached Comet 67P/Churyumov-Gerasimenko (hereafter 67P/C-G) in August 2014 at an heliocentric distance of 3.6 a.u. and was then put in orbit around its nucleus to perform detailed observations. Among the collected data are the images acquired by the OSIRIS instrument up to the perihelion passage of the comet in August 2015, which allowed us to map the entire nucleus surface at high-resolution in the visible. Stereophotoclinometry methods have been used to reconstruct a global high-resolution shape model and to monitor its rotational parameters using data collected up to perihelion. The nucleus has a conspicuous bilobate shape with overall dimensions along its principal axes of (4.34 ± 0.02) × (2.60 ± 0.02) × (2.12 ± 0.06) km. The best-fit ellipsoid dimensions of the individual lobes along their principal axes of inertia are found to be 4.10 × 3.52 × 1.63 km and 2.50 × 2.14 × 1.64 km. Their volume amounts to 66% and 27% of the total volume of the nucleus. The two lobes are connected by a “neck” whose volume has been estimated to represent ∼7% of the total volume of the comet. Combining the derived volume of 18.8 ± 0.3 km with the mass of 9.982 ± 0.003 × 10 kg determined by the Rosetta/RSI experiment, we obtained a bulk density of the nucleus of . Together with the companion value of deduced from the stereophotogrammetry shape model of the nucleus (Preusker et al.  Astron. Astrophys. 583, A33), these constitute the first reliable and most accurate determination of the density of a cometary nucleus to date. The calculated porosity is quite large, ranging approximately from 70% to 75% depending upon the assumed density of the dust grains and the dust-to-ice mass ratio. The nature of the porosity, either micro or macro or both, remains unconstrained. The coordinates of the center of gravity are not compatible with a uniform nucleus density. The direction of the offset between the center of gravity and the center of figure suggests that the big lobe has a slightly higher bulk density compared to the small one. the center of mass position cannot be explained by different, but homogenous densities in the two lobes. The initial rotational period of 12.4041 ± 0.0001 h of the nucleus persisted until October 2014. It then slightly increased to a maximum of 12.4304 h reached on 19 May 2015 and finally dropped to 12.305 h just before perihelion on August 10, 2015. A periodogram analysis of the (RA, Dec) direction of the -axis of the comet obtained in parallel with the shape reconstruction exhibits a highly significant minima at 11.5 ± 0.5 day clearly indicating an excited rotational state with an amplitude of 0.15 ± 0.03°.
Several planetary satellites apparently have subsurface seas that are of great interest for, among other reasons, their possible habitability. The geologically diverse saturnian satellite Enceladus vigorously vents liquid water and vapor from fractures within a south polar depression and thus must have a liquid reservoir or active melting. However, the extent and location of any subsurface liquid region is not directly observable. We use measurements of control points across the surface of Enceladus accumulated over seven years of spacecraft observations to determine the satellite's precise rotation state, finding a forced physical libration of 0.120. ±. 0.014° (2. σ). This value is too large to be consistent with Enceladus's core being rigidly connected to its surface, and thus implies the presence of a global ocean rather than a localized polar sea. The maintenance of a global ocean within Enceladus is problematic according to many thermal models and so may constrain satellite properties or require a surprisingly dissipative Saturn.
In order to test accretion simulations as well as planetary differentiation scenarios, we have integrated a multistage core–mantle differentiation model with N-body accretion simulations. Impacts between embryos and planetesimals are considered to result in magma ocean formation and episodes of core formation. The core formation model combines rigorous chemical mass balance with metal–silicate element partitioning data and requires that the bulk compositions of all starting embryos and planetesimals are defined as a function of their heliocentric distances of origin. To do this, we assume that non-volatile elements are present in Solar System (CI) relative abundances in all bodies and that oxygen and H O contents are the main compositional variables. The primary constraint on the combined model is the composition of the Earth’s primitive mantle. In addition, we aim to reproduce the composition of the martian mantle and the mass fractions of the metallic cores of Earth and Mars. The model is refined by least squares minimization with up to five fitting parameters that consist of the metal–silicate equilibration pressure and 1–4 parameters that define the starting compositions of primitive bodies. This integrated model has been applied to six Grand Tack N-body accretion simulations. Investigations of a broad parameter space indicate that: (1) accretion of Earth was heterogeneous, (2) metal–silicate equilibration pressures increase as accretion progresses and are, on average, 60–70% of core–mantle boundary pressures at the time of each impact, and (3) a large fraction (70–100%) of the metal of impactor cores equilibrates with a small fraction of the silicate mantles of proto-planets during each core formation event. Results are highly sensitive to the compositional model for the primitive starting bodies and several accretion/core-formation models can thus be excluded. Acceptable fits to the Earth’s mantle composition are obtained only when bodies that originated close to the Sun, at <0.9–1.2 AU, are highly reduced and those from beyond this distance are increasingly oxidized. Reasonable concentrations of H O in Earth’s mantle are obtained when bodies originating from beyond 6–7 AU contain 20 wt% water ice (icy bodies that originated between the snow line and this distance did not contribute to Earth’s accretion because they were swept up by Jupiter and Saturn). In the six models examined, water is added to the Earth mainly after 60–80% of its final mass has accreted. The compositional evolution of the mantles of Venus and Mars are also constrained by the model. The FeO content of the martian mantle depends critically on the heliocentric distance at which the Mars-forming embryo originated. Finally, the Earth’s core is predicted to contain 8–9 wt% silicon, 2–4 wt% oxygen and 10–60 ppm hydrogen, whereas the martian core is predicted to contain low concentrations (<1 wt%) of Si and O.
The distribution of asteroids across the main belt has been studied for decades to understand the current compositional distribution and what that tells us about the formation and evolution of our Solar System. All-sky surveys now provide orders of magnitude more data than targeted surveys. We present a method to bias-correct the asteroid population observed in the Sloan Digital Sky Survey (SDSS) according to size, distance, and albedo. We taxonomically classify this dataset consistent with the Bus and Binzel (Bus, S.J., Binzel, R.P. . Icarus 158, 146–177) and Bus–DeMeo et al. (DeMeo, F.E., Binzel, R.P., Slivan, S.M., Bus, S.J. . Icarus 202(July), 160–180) systems and present the resulting taxonomic distribution. The dataset includes asteroids as small as 5 km, a factor of three in diameter smaller than in previous work such as by Mothé-Diniz et al. (Mothé-Diniz, T., Carvano, J.M.Á., Lazzaro, D. . Icarus 162(March), 10–21). Because of the wide range of sizes in our sample, we present the distribution by number, surface area, volume, and mass whereas previous work was exclusively by number. While the distribution by number is a useful quantity and has been used for decades, these additional quantities provide new insights into the distribution of total material. We find evidence for D-types in the inner main belt where they are unexpected according to dynamical models of implantation of bodies from the outer Solar System into the inner Solar System during planetary migration (Levison, H.F., Bottke, W.F., Gounelle, M., Morbidelli, A., Nesvorný, D., Tsiganis, K. . Nature 460(July), 364–366). We find no evidence of S-types or other unexpected classes among Trojans and Hildas, albeit a bias favoring such a detection. Finally, we estimate for the first time the total amount of material of each class in the inner Solar System. The main belt’s most massive classes are C, B, P, V and S in decreasing order. Excluding the four most massive asteroids, (1) Ceres, (2) Pallas, (4) Vesta and (10) Hygiea that heavily skew the values, primitive material (C-, P-types) account for more than half main-belt and Trojan asteroids by mass, most of the remaining mass being in the S-types. All the other classes are minor contributors to the material between Mars and Jupiter.
The availability of asteroid spectral measurements extending to the near-infrared, resulting from the development of new telescopic instruments (such as SpeX [Rayner, J.T., and 7 colleagues, 2003. Astron. Soc. Pacific 115, 362–382]), provides a new basis for classifying asteroid reflectance spectra. We present an asteroid taxonomy classification system based on reflectance spectrum characteristics for 371 asteroids measured over the wavelength range 0.45 to 2.45 μm. This system of 24 classes is constructed using principal component analysis, following most closely the visible wavelength taxonomy of Bus [Bus, S.J., 1999. Ph.D. thesis, Massachusetts Institute of Technology], which itself builds upon the system of Tholen [Tholen, D.J., 1984. Ph.D. thesis, University of Arizona]. Nearly all of the Bus taxonomy classes are preserved, with one new class (Sv) defined. For each class we present boundary definitions, spectral descriptions, and prototype examples. A flow chart method is presented for classifying newly acquired data spanning this wavelength range. When data are available only in the near-infrared range (0.85 to 2.45 μm), classification is also possible in many cases through an alternate flow chart process. Within our sample, several classes remain relatively rare: only 6 objects fall into the A-class; 349 Dembowska and 3628 Boznemcova reside as the only objects in their respective R- and O-classes. Eight Q-class objects are all near-Earth asteroids. We note 1904 Massevitch as an outer main-belt V-type while 15 other V-type objects have inner main-belt orbits consistent with an association with Vesta.
We have produced a multiannual climatology of airborne dust from martian year 24–31 using multiple datasets of retrieved or estimated column optical depths. The datasets are based on observations of the martian atmosphere from April 1999 to July 2013 made by different orbiting instruments: the Thermal Emission Spectrometer (TES) aboard Mars Global Surveyor, the Thermal Emission Imaging System (THEMIS) aboard Mars Odyssey, and the Mars Climate Sounder (MCS) aboard Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter (MRO). The procedure we have adopted consists of gridding the available retrievals of column dust optical depth (CDOD) from TES and THEMIS nadir observations, as well as the estimates of this quantity from MCS limb observations. Our gridding method calculates averages and uncertainties on a regularly spaced spatio-temporal grid, using an iterative procedure that is weighted in space, time, and retrieval quality. The lack of observations at certain times and locations introduces missing grid points in the maps, which therefore may result in irregularly gridded (i.e. incomplete) fields. In order to evaluate the strengths and weaknesses of the resulting gridded maps, we compare with independent observations of CDOD by PanCam cameras and Mini-TES spectrometers aboard the Mars Exploration Rovers “Spirit” and “Opportunity”, by the Surface Stereo Imager aboard the Phoenix lander, and by the Compact Reconnaissance Imaging Spectrometer for Mars aboard MRO. We have statistically analyzed the irregularly gridded maps to provide an overview of the dust climatology on Mars over eight years, specifically in relation to its interseasonal and interannual variability, in addition to provide a basis for instrument intercomparison. Finally, we have produced regularly gridded maps of CDOD by spatially interpolating the irregularly gridded maps using a kriging method. These complete maps are used as dust scenarios in the Mars Climate Database (MCD) version 5, and are useful in many modeling applications. The two datasets for the eight available martian years are publicly available and distributed with open access on the MCD website.
The target asteroid of the OSIRIS-REx asteroid sample return mission, (101955) Bennu (formerly 1999 ), is a half-kilometer near-Earth asteroid with an extraordinarily well constrained orbit. An extensive data set of optical astrometry from 1999 to 2013 and high-quality radar delay measurements to Bennu in 1999, 2005, and 2011 reveal the action of the Yarkovsky effect, with a mean semimajor axis drift rate or . The accuracy of this result depends critically on the fidelity of the observational and dynamical model. As an example, neglecting the relativistic perturbations of the Earth during close approaches affects the orbit with significance in . The orbital deviations from purely gravitational dynamics allow us to deduce the acceleration of the Yarkovsky effect, while the known physical characterization of Bennu allows us to independently model the force due to thermal emissions. The combination of these two analyses yields a bulk density of , which indicates a macroporosity in the range for the bulk densities of likely analog meteorites, suggesting a rubble-pile internal structure. The associated mass estimate is and . Bennu’s Earth close approaches are deterministic over the interval 1654–2135, beyond which the predictions are statistical in nature. In particular, the 2135 close approach is likely within the lunar distance and leads to strong scattering and numerous potential impacts in subsequent years, from 2175 to 2196. The highest individual impact probability is in 2196, and the cumulative impact probability is , leading to a cumulative Palermo Scale of −1.70.
We describe a methodology of estimating the size–frequency distribution (SFD) of near-Earth asteroids (NEAs). We estimate the completion versus size of present surveys based on the re-detection ratio, that is, the fraction of all detections over a recent period that are re-detections of already discovered objects rather than new discoveries. The re-detection ratio is a robust measure of completion, but must be corrected for the obvious bias caused by differences in ease of discovery due to specific orbital geometries. We do this with a computer survey simulation using a large set of synthetic orbital elements matching as best possible the distribution of the real NEA population. Once suitably “calibrated” to match re-detections of the real survey, the completion estimate versus size derived from the simulation can be extended both to large size where few if any new detections are recorded, and to small sizes beyond where re-detection numbers are statistically significant, thereby providing an estimate of the population and survey completion over the entire range from the largest NEAs down to the smallest sizes detected (∼3 m diameter). Here we update our previous population estimates and survey progress, using discoveries by surveys from August, 2012 through July, 2014. We estimate that there are 990 ± 20 NEAs larger than 1 km in diameter (absolute magnitude ⩽ 17.75), of which about 90% have been discovered as of August, 2014. We confirm a “dip” in the SFD, in the range from a few tens to a few hundreds of meters diameter, which may be due to the transition from larger “rubble pile” bodies to smaller “monolithic” bodies. We compare our population estimate at the smallest sizes with recent ones based on bolide frequency and find excellent agreement, within estimated errors. The same survey simulation methodology can be used to investigate population and survey completion of various subset populations, for example Earth-Crossing Asteroids (ECAs, with orbits crossing 1 AU heliocentric distance), Potentially Hazardous Asteroids (PHAs, with orbits passing within 0.05 AU of the Earth’s orbit), or Interior to Earth Asteroids (IEOs, with orbits entirely interior to the Earth’s orbit). Lastly, we have investigated the population and completion of so-called “ARM-target” asteroids, of size ∼10 m diameter in orbits passing within 0.03 AU of the Earth’s orbit with very low Earth-encounter velocity, <2.5 km/s. We find current ground-based surveys are remarkably efficient in detecting this subset of NEAs, and are currently about 1% complete, implying a total population of such bodies of only a few thousand.
► Global 3D study of the early martian climate and water cycle. ► New general circulation model with accurate radiative transfer and dynamic clouds developed. ► Simulations show adiabatic effect at higher CO pressure causes ice to migrate to valley network regions. ► Seasonal melting insufficient to explain necessary erosion. ► Impacts, volcanism or basal melting may have caused episodic flooding events. We discuss 3D global simulations of the early martian climate that we have performed assuming a faint young Sun and denser CO atmosphere. We include a self-consistent representation of the water cycle, with atmosphere–surface interactions, atmospheric transport, and the radiative effects of CO and H O gas and clouds taken into account. We find that for atmospheric pressures greater than a fraction of a bar, the adiabatic cooling effect causes temperatures in the southern highland valley network regions to fall significantly below the global average. Long-term climate evolution simulations indicate that in these circumstances, water ice is transported to the highlands from low-lying regions for a wide range of orbital obliquities, regardless of the extent of the Tharsis bulge. In addition, an extended water ice cap forms on the southern pole, approximately corresponding to the location of the Noachian/Hesperian era Dorsa Argentea Formation. Even for a multiple-bar CO atmosphere, conditions are too cold to allow long-term surface liquid water. Limited melting occurs on warm summer days in some locations, but only for surface albedo and thermal inertia conditions that may be unrealistic for water ice. Nonetheless, meteorite impacts and volcanism could potentially cause intense episodic melting under such conditions. Because ice migration to higher altitudes is a robust mechanism for recharging highland water sources after such events, we suggest that this globally sub-zero, ‘icy highlands’ scenario for the late Noachian climate may be sufficient to explain most of the fluvial geology without the need to invoke additional long-term warming mechanisms or an early warm, wet Mars.
There is a long-standing debate regarding the origin of the terrestrial planets’ water as well as the hydrated C-type asteroids. Here we show that the inner Solar System's water is a simple byproduct of the giant planets’ formation. Giant planet cores accrete gas slowly until the conditions are met for a rapid phase of runaway growth. As a gas giant's mass rapidly increases, the orbits of nearby planetesimals are destabilized and gravitationally scattered in all directions. Under the action of aerodynamic gas drag, a fraction of scattered planetesimals are deposited onto stable orbits interior to Jupiter's. This process is effective in populating the outer main belt with C-type asteroids that originated from a broad (5-20 AU-wide) region of the disk. As the disk starts to dissipate, scattered planetesimals reach sufficiently eccentric orbits to cross the terrestrial planet region and deliver water to the growing Earth. This mechanism does not depend strongly on the giant planets’ orbital migration history and is generic: whenever a giant planet forms it invariably pollutes its inner planetary system with water-rich bodies.
► We compare UV transits of HD209458b with empirical and hydrodynamic models. ► We constrain the mean temperature, densities and escape rates of different species. ► The detection of atomic oxygen implies a minimum mass loss rate of 6 × 10 kg s . ► The results constrain the temperature, chemistry, and ionization of the atmosphere. ► Detection of Si indicates that clouds of forsterite and enstatite do not form. Transits in the H I 1216 Å (Lyman ), O I 1334 Å, C II 1335 Å, and Si III 1206.5 Å lines constrain the properties of the upper atmosphere of HD209458b. In addition to probing the temperature and density profiles in the thermosphere, they have implications for the properties of the lower atmosphere. Fits to the observations with a simple empirical model and a direct comparison with a more complex hydrodynamic model constrain the mean temperature and ionization state of the atmosphere, and imply that the optical depth of the extended thermosphere of the planet in the atomic resonance lines is significant. In particular, it is sufficient to explain the observed transit depths in the H I 1216 Å line. The detection of O at high altitudes implies that the minimum mass loss rate from the planet is approximately 6 × 10 kg s . The mass loss rate based on our hydrodynamic model is higher than this and implies that diffusive separation is prevented for neutral species with a mass lower than about 130 amu by the escape of H. Heavy ions are transported to the upper atmosphere by Coulomb collisions with H and their presence does not provide as strong constraints on the mass loss rate as the detection of heavy neutral atoms. Models of the upper atmosphere with solar composition and heating based on the average solar X-ray and EUV flux agree broadly with the observations but tend to underestimate the transit depths in the O I, C II, and Si III lines. This suggests that the temperature and/or elemental abundances in the thermosphere may be higher than expected from such models. Observations of the escaping atmosphere can potentially be used to constrain the strength of the planetary magnetic field. We find that a magnetic moment of ≲ 0.04 , where is the jovian magnetic moment, allows the ions to escape globally rather than only along open field lines. The detection of Si in the thermosphere indicates that clouds of forsterite and enstatite do not form in the lower atmosphere. This has implications for the temperature and dynamics of the atmosphere that also affect the interpretation of transit and secondary eclipse observations in the visible and infrared wavelengths.
The COSIMA mass spectrometer on board the ROSETTA orbiter has collected dust in the near coma of comet 67P/Churyumov-Gerasimenko since August 11, 2014. The collected dust particles are identified by taking images with a microscope (COSISCOPE) under grazing incidence illumination before and after exposure of the target to cometary dust. More than 10,000 dust particles >14 µm in size collected from August 11, 2014 to April 3, 2015 have been detected on three distinct target assemblies, including ∼500 dust particles with sizes ranging from 50 to more than 500 µm, that can be resolved by COSISCOPE (pixel size 14 µm). During this period, the heliocentric distance decreased from 3.5 AU to less than 2 AU. The collection efficiency on targets covered with “metal black” has been very high, due to the low relative velocity of incoming dust. Therefore, the COSISCOPE observations provide the first optical characterization of an unbiased sample of particles collected in the inner coma of a comet. The typology of particles >100 µm in size is dominated by clusters with a wide range of structure and strength, most originating from the disruption of large aggregates (>1 mm in size) shortly before collection. A generic relationship between these clusters and IDPs/Antarctic meteorites is likely in the framework of accretion models. About 15% of particles larger than 100 µm are compact particles with two likely contributions, one being linked to clusters and another leaving the cometary nucleus as single compact particles.
► Dynamical model of post-rotational fission including spin–orbit coupling and tides. ► Rotationally fissioned asteroids evolve into observed small asteroid classes. ► Rotationally fissioned system mass ratio determines the evolutionary track of the system. ► Satellite fission due to spin–orbit coupling creates a ternary system and stability. ► Initial component distribution determines evolutionary fate of rubble pile asteroids. ► Small asteroids may go through many evolutionary cycles during their lifetimes. We present a model of near-Earth asteroid (NEA) rotational fission and ensuing dynamics that describes the creation of synchronous binaries and all other observed NEA systems including: doubly synchronous binaries, high- binaries, ternary systems, and contact binaries. Our model only presupposes the Yarkovsky–O’Keefe–Radzievskii–Paddack (YORP) effect, “rubble pile” asteroid geophysics, and gravitational interactions. The YORP effect torques a “rubble pile” asteroid until the asteroid reaches its fission spin limit and the components enter orbit about each other (Scheeres, D.J. . Icarus 189, 370–385). Non-spherical gravitational potentials couple the spin states to the orbit state and chaotically drive the system towards the observed asteroid classes along two evolutionary tracks primarily distinguished by mass ratio. Related to this is a new binary process termed secondary fission – the secondary asteroid of the binary system is rotationally accelerated via gravitational torques until it fissions, thus creating a chaotic ternary system. The initially chaotic binary can be stabilized to create a synchronous binary by components of the fissioned secondary asteroid impacting the primary asteroid, solar gravitational perturbations, and mutual body tides. These results emphasize the importance of the initial component size distribution and configuration within the parent asteroid. NEAs may go through multiple binary cycles and many YORP-induced rotational fissions during their approximately 10 Myr lifetime in the inner Solar System. Rotational fission and the ensuing dynamics are responsible for all NEA systems including the most commonly observed synchronous binaries.
► We present 3D simulations of the possible early Mars climate. ► We assume a faint young Sun and a thick CO atmosphere with CO clouds. ► We explore various obliquities, orbits, cloud parameters and dust loading. ► The mean temperature cannot be raised above 0 °C anywhere on the planet. On the basis of geological evidence, it is often stated that the early martian climate was warm enough for liquid water to flow on the surface thanks to the greenhouse effect of a thick atmosphere. We present 3D global climate simulations of the early martian climate performed assuming a faint young Sun and a CO atmosphere with surface pressure between 0.1 and 7 bars. The model includes a detailed radiative transfer model using revised CO gas collision induced absorption properties, and a parameterisation of the CO ice cloud microphysical and radiative properties. A wide range of possible climates is explored using various values of obliquities, orbital parameters, cloud microphysic parameters, atmospheric dust loading, and surface properties. Unlike on present day Mars, for pressures higher than a fraction of a bar, surface temperatures vary with altitude because of the adiabatic cooling and warming of the atmosphere when it moves vertically. In most simulations, CO ice clouds cover a major part of the planet. Previous studies had suggested that they could have warmed the planet thanks to their scattering greenhouse effect. However, even assuming parameters that maximize this effect, it does not exceed +15 K. Combined with the revised CO spectroscopy and the impact of surface CO ice on the planetary albedo, we find that a CO atmosphere could not have raised the annual mean temperature above 0 °C anywhere on the planet. The collapse of the atmosphere into permanent CO ice caps is predicted for pressures higher than 3 bar, or conversely at pressure lower than 1 bar if the obliquity is low enough. Summertime diurnal mean surface temperatures above 0 °C (a condition which could have allowed rivers and lakes to form) are predicted for obliquity larger than 40° at high latitudes but not in locations where most valley networks or layered sedimentary units are observed. In the absence of other warming mechanisms, our climate model results are thus consistent with a cold early Mars scenario in which nonclimatic mechanisms must occur to explain the evidence for liquid water. In a companion paper by Wordsworth et al. we simulate the hydrological cycle on such a planet and discuss how this could have happened in more detail.
We present an improved lunar digital elevation model (DEM) covering latitudes within ±60°, at a horizontal resolution of 512 pixels per degree (∼60 m at the equator) and a typical vertical accuracy ∼3 to 4 m. This DEM is constructed from geodetically-accurate topographic heights from the Lunar Orbiter Laser Altimeter (LOLA) onboard the Lunar Reconnaissance Orbiter, to which we co-registered 43,200 stereo-derived DEMs (each ) from the SELENE Terrain Camera (TC) (∼10 pixels total). After co-registration, approximately 90% of the TC DEMs show root-mean-square vertical residuals with the LOLA data of <5 m compared to ∼ 50% prior to co-registration. We use the co-registered TC data to estimate and correct orbital and pointing geolocation errors from the LOLA altimetric profiles (typically amounting to <10 m horizontally and <1 m vertically). By combining both co-registered datasets, we obtain a near-global DEM with high geodetic accuracy, and without the need for surface interpolation. We evaluate the resulting LOLA + TC merged DEM (designated as “SLDEM2015”) with particular attention to quantifying seams and crossover errors.
The number of asteroids with accurately determined orbits increases fast, and this increase is also accelerating. The catalogs of asteroid physical observations have also increased, although the number of objects is still smaller than in the orbital catalogs. Thus it becomes more and more challenging to perform, maintain and update a classification of asteroids into families. To cope with these challenges we developed a new approach to the asteroid family classification by combining the Hierarchical Clustering Method (HCM) with a method to add new members to existing families. This procedure makes use of the much larger amount of information contained in the proper elements catalogs, with respect to classifications using also physical observations for a smaller number of asteroids. Our work is based on a large catalog of high accuracy synthetic proper elements (available from AstDyS), containing data for >330,000 numbered asteroids. By selecting from the catalog a much smaller number of large asteroids, we first identify a number of core families; to these we attribute the next layer of smaller objects. Then, we remove all the family members from the catalog, and reapply the HCM to the rest. This gives both satellite families which extend the core families and new independent families, consisting mainly of small asteroids. These two cases are discriminated by another step of attribution of new members and by merging intersecting families. This leads to a classification with 128 families and currently 87,095 members. The number of members can be increased automatically with each update of the proper elements catalog; changes in the list of families are not automated. By using information from absolute magnitudes, we take advantage of the larger size range in some families to analyze their shape in the proper semimajor axis vs. inverse diameter plane. This leads to a new method to estimate the family age, or ages in cases where we identify internal structures. The analysis of the plot above evidences some open problems but also the possibility of obtaining further information of the geometrical properties of the impact process. The results from the previous steps are then analyzed, using also auxiliary information on physical properties including WISE albedos and SDSS color indexes. This allows to solve some difficult cases of families overlapping in the proper elements space but generated by different collisional events. The families formed by one or more cratering events are found to be more numerous than previously believed because the fragments are smaller. We analyze some examples of cratering families (Massalia, Vesta, Eunomia) which show internal structures, interpreted as multiple collisions. We also discuss why Ceres has no family.
A new model for terrestrial planet formation (Hansen . Astrophys. J., 703, 1131–1140; Walsh, K.J., et al. . Nature, 2011, 206–209) has explored accretion in a truncated protoplanetary disk, and found that such a configuration is able to reproduce the distribution of mass among the planets in the Solar System, especially the Earth/Mars mass ratio, which earlier simulations have generally not been able to match. Walsh et al. (Walsh, K.J., et al. . Nature, 2011, 206–209) tested a possible mechanism to truncate the disk—a two-stage, inward-then-outward migration of Jupiter and Saturn, as found in numerous hydrodynamical simulations of giant planet formation. In addition to truncating the disk and producing a more realistic Earth/Mars mass ratio, the migration of the giant planets also populates the asteroid belt with two distinct populations of bodies—the inner belt is filled by bodies originating inside of 3 AU, and the outer belt is filled with bodies originating from between and beyond the giant planets (which are hereafter referred to as ‘primitive’ bodies). One implication of the truncation mechanism proposed in Walsh et al. (Walsh, K.J., et al. . Nature, 2011, 206–209) is the scattering of primitive planetesimals onto planet-crossing orbits during the formation of the planets. We find here that the planets will accrete on order 1–2% of their total mass from these bodies. For an assumed value of 10% for the water mass fraction of the primitive planetesimals, this model delivers a total amount of water comparable to that estimated to be on the Earth today. The radial distribution of the planetary masses and the dynamical excitation of their orbits are a good match to the observed system. However, we find that a truncated disk leads to formation timescales more rapid than suggested by radiometric chronometers. In particular, the last giant impact is typically earlier than 20 Myr, and a substantial amount of mass is accreted after that event. This is at odds with the dating of the Moon-forming impact and the estimated amount of mass accreted by Earth following that event. However, 5 of the 27 planets larger than half an Earth mass formed in all simulations do experience large late impacts and subsequent accretion consistent with those constraints.