Near-Earth asteroid surface roughness depends on compositional class

Lance A.M. Benner, Steven J. Ostro, Christopher Magri, Michael C. Nolan, Ellen S. Howell, Jon D. Giorgini, Raymond F. Jurgens, Jean Luc Margot, Patrick A. Taylor, Michael W. Busch, Michael K. Shepard

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

88 Scopus citations


Radar observations of 214 near-Earth asteroids (NEAs) reveal a very strong correlation of circular polarization ratio with visible-infrared taxonomic class, establishing distinct differences in the centimeter-to-several-decimeter structural complexity of objects in different spectral classes. The correlation may be due to the intrinsic mechanical properties of different mineralogical assemblages but also may reflect very different formation ages and collisional histories. The highest ratios are measured for groups associated with achondritic igneous rocky meteorites: the E class, whose parent body may be 3103 Eger, and the V class, derived from the mainbelt asteroid (and Dawn mission target) 4 Vesta.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)294-304
Number of pages11
Issue number2
StatePublished - Dec 2008
Externally publishedYes


  • Asteroids
  • composition
  • Near-Earth objects
  • Radar observations
  • surfaces

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Astronomy and Astrophysics
  • Space and Planetary Science


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