Modeling optical roughness and first-order scattering processes from OSIRIS-REx color images of the rough surface of asteroid (101955) Bennu

Pedro H. Hasselmann, Sonia Fornasier, Maria A. Barucci, Alice Praet, Beth E. Clark, Jian Yang Li, Dathon R. Golish, Daniella N. DellaGiustina, Jasinghege Don P. Deshapriya, Xian Duan Zou, Mike G. Daly, Olivier S. Barnouin, Amy A. Simon, Dante S. Lauretta

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

7 Scopus citations


The dark asteroid (101955) Bennu studied by NASA’ s OSIRIS-REx mission has a boulder-rich and apparently dust-poor surface, providing a natural laboratory to investigate the role of single-scattering processes in rough particulate media. Our goal is to define optical roughness and other scattering parameters that may be useful for the laboratory preparation of sample analogs, interpretation of imaging data, and analysis of the sample that will be returned to Earth. We rely on a semi-numerical statistical model aided by digital terrain model (DTM) shadow ray-tracing to obtain scattering parameters at the smallest surface element allowed by the DTM (facets of ~10 cm). Using a Markov Chain Monte Carlo technique, we solved the inversion problem on all four-band images of the OSIRIS-REx mission’ s top four candidate sample sites, for which high-precision laser altimetry DTMs are available. We reconstructed the a posteriori probability distribution for each parameter and distinguished primary and secondary solutions. Through the photometric image correction, we found that a mixing of low and average roughness slope best describes Bennu's surface for up to 90 phase angle. We detected a low non-zero specular ratio, perhaps indicating exposed sub-centimeter mono-crystalline inclusions on the surface. We report an average roughness RMS slope of 27−5∘+1, a specular ratio of 2.6−0.8+0.1%, an approx. single-scattering albedo of 4.64−0.09+0.08% at 550 nm, and two solutions for the back-scatter asymmetric factor, ξ(1) = − 0.360 ± 0.030 and ξ(2) = − 0.444 ± 0.020, for all four sites altogether.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article number114106
StatePublished - Mar 15 2021


  • Asteroid Bennu
  • Asteroids, surfaces
  • Image processing
  • Photometry
  • Radiative transfer

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Astronomy and Astrophysics
  • Space and Planetary Science


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