Phase reddening on asteroid Bennu from visible and near-infrared spectroscopy

S. Fornasier, P. H. Hasselmann, J. D.P. Deshapriya, M. A. Barucci, B. E. Clark, A. Praet, V. E. Hamilton, A. Simon, J. Y. Li, E. A. Cloutis, F. Merlin, X. D. Zou, D. S. Lauretta

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

24 Scopus citations


Context. The NASA mission OSIRIS-REx (Origins, Spectral Interpretation, Resource Identification, and Security-Regolith Explorer) has been observing near-Earth asteroid (101955) Bennu in close proximity since December 2018. In October 2020, the spacecraft collected a sample of surface material from Bennu to return to Earth. Aims. In this work, we investigate spectral phase reddening - that is, the variation of spectral slope with phase angle - on Bennu using spectra acquired by the OSIRIS-REx Visible and InfraRed Spectrometer (OVIRS) covering a phase angle range of 8-130°. We investigate this process at the global scale and for some localized regions of interest (ROIs), including boulders, craters, and the designated sample collection sites of the OSIRIS-REx mission. Methods. Spectra were wavelength- and flux-calibrated, then corrected for the out-of-band contribution and thermal emission, resampled, and finally converted into radiance factor per standard OVIRS processing. Spectral slopes were computed in multiple wavelength ranges from spectra normalized at 0.55 μm. Results. Bennu has a globally negative spectra slope, which is typical of B-type asteroids. The spectral slope gently increases in a linear way up to a phase angle of 90°, where it approaches zero. The spectral phase reddening is monotonic and wavelength-dependent with highest values in the visible range. Its coefficient is 0.00044 μm-1 deg-1 in the 0.55-2.5 μm range. For observations of Bennu acquired at high phase angle (130°), phase reddening increases exponentially, and the spectral slope becomes positive. Similar behavior was reported in the literature for the carbonaceous chondrite Mukundpura in spectra acquired at extreme geometries. Some ROIs, including the sample collection site, Nightingale, have a steeper phase reddening coefficient than the global average, potentially indicating a surface covered by fine material with high micro-roughness. Conclusions. The gentle spectral phase reddening effect on Bennu is similar to that observed in ground-based measurements of other B-type asteroids, but much lower than that observed for other low-albedo bodies such as Ceres or comet 67P/Churyumov-Gerasimenko. Monotonic reddening may be associated with the presence of fine particles at micron scales and/or of particles with fractal structure that introduce micro- and sub-micro roughness across the surface of Bennu.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article numberA142
JournalAstronomy and astrophysics
StatePublished - Dec 1 2020


  • Methods: data analysis
  • Methods: observational
  • Minor planets, asteroids: individual: Bennu
  • Techniques: spectroscopic

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Astronomy and Astrophysics
  • Space and Planetary Science


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