Galileo Photometry of Asteroid 951 Gaspra

P. Helfenstein, J. Veverka, P. C. Thomas, D. P. Simonelli, P. Lee, K. Klaasen, T. V. Johnson, H. Breneman, J. W. Head, S. Murchie, F. Fanale, M. Robinson, B. Clark, J. Granahan, H. Garbeil, A. S. McEwen, R. L. Kirk, M. Davies, G. Neukum, S. MottolaR. Wagner, M. Belton, C. Chapman, Carl Pilcher

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

127 Scopus citations


Galileo images of Gaspra make it possible for the first time to determine a main-belt asteroid's photometric properties accurately by providing surface-resolved coverage over a wide range of incidence and emission angles and by extending the phase angle coverage to phases not observable from Earth. We combine Earth-based telescopic photometry over phase angles 2° ≤ α ≤ 25° with Galileo whole-disk and disk-resolved data at 33° ≤ α ≤ 51° to derive average global photometric properties in terms of Hapke's photometric model. The microscopic texture and particle phase-function behavior of Gaspra's surface are remarkably like those of other airless rocky bodies such as the Moon. The macroscopic surface roughness parameter, θ = 29°, is slightly larger than that reported for typical lunar materials. The particle single scattering albedo, ω0 = 0.36 ± 0.07, is significantly larger than for lunar materials, and the opposition surge amplitude, B0 = 1.63 ± 0.07, is correspondingly smaller. We determine a visual geometric albedo pv = 0.22 ± 0.06 for Gaspra, in close agreement with pv = 0.22 ± 0.03 estimated from Earth-based observations. Gaspra's phase integral is 0.47, and the bolometric Bond albedo is estimated to be 0.12 ± 0.03. An albedo map derived by correcting Galileo images with our average global photometric function reveals subdued albedo contrasts of ±10% or less over Gaspra's northern hemisphere. Several independent classification algorithms confirm the subtle spectral heterogeneity reported earlier (S. Mottola, M. DiMartino, M. Gonano-Beurer, H. Hoffman, and G. Neukum, 1993, Asteroids, Comets, Meteors, pp. 421-424; M. J. S. Belton et al., 1992, Science 257, 1647-1652). Whole-disk colors (0.41 ≤ λ ≤ 0.99 μm) vary systematically with longitude by about ±5%, but color differences as large as 30% occur locally. Colors vary continuously between end-member materials whose areal distribution correlates with regional topography. Infrared: violet (0.99:0.41-μm) color ratios on Gaspra are strongly correlated with local elevation, being largest at lower elevations and smaller at higher elevations. No correlation was detected between elevation and the green:violet (0.56:0.41-μm) color ratio. Bright materials with a strong 1-μm absorption occur primarily in association with craters along ridges, while darker materials with 30% weaker 1-μm signatures occur downslope. The variations of color and albedo cannot be easily explained by grain-size effects alone or by differences in photometric geometry. The trends observed are consistent with those revealed by laboratory studies of the effects of comminution, glass formation, and segregation of metal from silicate components in chondritic meteorites and also in some silicate mixtures. The relative importance of these various processes on Gaspra remains to be determined.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)37-60
Number of pages24
Issue number1
StatePublished - 1994
Externally publishedYes

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Astronomy and Astrophysics
  • Space and Planetary Science


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