Space weathering (SW) is an ensemble of processes that act on a body exposed to the space environment. Typically, the exposure to SW results in the accumulation, at the surface, of nanoparticles, that are thought to be produced through a vaporization and subsequent cooling of the metallo-silicaceous components exposed to the space environment. The presence of such nanoparticles is responsible for the so-called reddening of the asteroids' reflectance spectra (i.e., the increase in Vis-NIR reflectance with increase in wavelength) observed by remote-sensing measurements. To investigate the mechanism of formation of these nanoparticles, we have employed atomic force microscopy (AFM) and scanning near-field optical microscopy (SNOM) to morphologically and optically characterize ordinary chondrites (OC), the most abundant class of meteorites collected on Earth and whose parent bodies are the S-type asteroids. The AFM study reveals the occurrence of a diffuse nanophase (martensite) in the meteorite's metal inclusions. Since the same areas show a reddening of the reflectivity spectra, this suggests that such spectral modification is based on a shock-induced phase transformation of the metal components of the extraterrestrial body. To gain more insight into this nanophase and on its role in the SW of the asteroids, an optical characterization by SNOM has been performed on OCs. In this work we exploited the peculiarity of this technique to search for a correlation between the topography on the nanoscale and the spectral characteristics, at different wavelengths in the red-NIR range, of the observed nanophase. Indeed, a high-resolution mapping of the optical properties of the meteorite provides an interesting method to discriminate between martensite-based and Fe-silicaceous nanoparticles. (C) 2010 WILEY-VCH Verlag GmbH & Co. KGaA, Weinheim
AFM and SNOM characterization of ordinary chondrites: A contribution to solving the problem of asteroid reddening / Giuliano, Pompeo; Giovanni, Longo; Marco, Girasole; Pierfrancesco, Moretti; Ernesto, Palomba; Maras, Adriana; Fabrizia, Somma; Antonio, Cricenti. - In: PHYSICA STATUS SOLIDI B-BASIC RESEARCH. - ISSN 0370-1972. - STAMPA. - 247:8(2010), pp. 2061-2066. (Intervento presentato al convegno 8th International Conference on Optics of Surfaces and Interfaces (OSI-VIII) tenutosi a Ischia, ITALY nel SEP 07-11, 2009) [10.1002/pssb.200983936].