Asteroids and meteorites: Parent bodies and delivered samples

Richard Greenberg, Clark R. Chapman

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

50 Scopus citations


Meteorites may be pieces of main-belt asteroids, derived by cratering collisions. The physical strength of an asteroid critically affects the quantity of ejecta that can be placed in orbits (probably resonant) that evolve to cross the Earth's. Asteroid strengths very widely due to initial composition and size (e.g., weak carbonaceous material or strong rock), subsequent geophysical evolution (e.g., formation of a strong iron core), and subsequent collisional evolution (e.g., conversion of a strong rocky body into a weak rubble pile). The meteorite yield on Earth further depends on meteorite strength, which affects longevity in space and survival through the atmosphere. We show that meteorites may be derived mainly by cratering rather than by disruptive fragmentation and from large main-belt asteroids rather than from small, Earth-approaching bodies. The model combines a wide variety of evidence from various disciplines to yield results consistent with meteorite statistics. However, no claim is made for uniqueness of this model, and many elements still admit considerable uncertainty.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)455-481
Number of pages27
Issue number3
StatePublished - Sep 1983
Externally publishedYes

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Astronomy and Astrophysics
  • Space and Planetary Science


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