Keck observations of near-Earth asteroids in the thermal infrared
We present the results of thermal-infrared observations of 20 near-Earth asteroids (NEAs) obtained in the period March 2000-February 2002 with the 10-m Keck-I telescope on Mauna Kea, Hawaii. The measured fluxes have been fitted with thermal-model emission continua to determine sizes and albedos. This work increases the number of NEAs having measured albedos by 35%. The spread of albedos derived is very large ( pv=0.02-0.55); the mean value is 0.25, which is much higher than that of observed main-belt asteroids. In most cases the albedos are in the ranges expected for the spectral types, although some exceptions are evident. Our results are consistent with a trend of increasing albedo with decreasing size for S-type asteroids with diameters below 20 km. A number of objects are found to have unexpectedly low apparent color temperatures, which may reflect unusual thermal properties. However, the results from our limited sample suggest that high thermal-inertia, regolith-free objects may be uncommon, even amongst NEAs with diameters of less than 1 km. We discuss the significance of our results in the light of information on these NEAs taken from the literature and the uncertainties inherent in applying thermal models to near-Earth asteroids.
- Pub Date:
- November 2003
- Earth Science