Shape model and surface properties of the OSIRIS-REx target Asteroid (101955) Bennu from radar and lightcurve observations

Michael C. Nolan, Christopher Magri, Ellen S. Howell, Lance A.M. Benner, Jon D. Giorgini, Carl W. Hergenrother, R. Scott Hudson, Dante S. Lauretta, Jean Luc Margot, Steven J. Ostro, Daniel J. Scheeres

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

208 Scopus citations


We determine the three-dimensional shape of near-Earth Asteroid (101955) Bennu based on radar images and optical lightcurves. Bennu was observed both in 1999 at its discovery apparition, and in 2005 using the 12.6-cm radar at the Arecibo Observatory and the 3.5-cm radar at the Goldstone tracking station. Data obtained in both apparitions were used to construct a shape model of this object. Observations were also obtained at many other wavelengths to characterize this object, some of which were used to further constrain the shape modeling. The lightcurve data, along with an initial determination of the rotation period derived from them, simplified and improved the shape modeling.Below we briefly describe the observations and shape modeling process. We discuss the shape model and the implications for the possible formation and evolution of this object. We also describe the importance and limitations of the shape model in view of the fact that this object is the target of the OSIRIS-REx spacecraft mission.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)629-640
Number of pages12
Issue number1
StatePublished - Sep 2013


  • Asteroid Bennu
  • Asteroids, Rotation
  • Asteroids, Surfaces
  • Radar observations

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Astronomy and Astrophysics
  • Space and Planetary Science


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