Masters Theses

Date of Award


Degree Type


Degree Name

Master of Science

Major Professor

Sean S. Lindsay

Committee Members

Andrew W. Steiner, Tony Mezzacappa


Vesta and Vesta-like asteroids have been convincingly linked, through visible and near-infrared (VNIR; 0.7 - 2.5 µm [micron]) spectral analysis, to a clan of basaltic achondritic meteorites – howardites, eucrites, and diogenites (HEDs). VNIR reflectance spectra of V-type asteroids and HED meteorites have two absorption features centered near 1 µm (Band I) and 2 µm (Band II) caused primarily by Fe2+ [iron] and Ca2+ [calcium] cations in pyroxene. Previous studies have shown a correlation between the mol% Fs and Wo with the central wavelengths of Band I and Band II, hereafter called Band I Center (BIC) and Band II Center (BIIC). This dependency on mineral composition allows for the generation of calibration equations that link BIC and BIIC to mol% Fs and Wo, which can be applied to estimate the mineralogy of V-type asteroids from their NIR spectra. The ability to accurately determine BIC and BIIC wavelength positions is dependent on the signal-to-noise ratio (SNR) of the spectrum. The typical SNR of asteroid spectra is SNR ~ 50, noticeably lower than the SNR of meteorite spectra, which is about ten times higher. Sanchez et al. (2020) artificially reduced the SNR of the ordinary chondrite meteorite spectra to explore mineralogical determinations using S-type asteroid spectra of comparable SNR. Sanchez et al. (2020) also extended the applicability of S-type calibration equations to incomplete spectral data sets lacking visible data or having unreliable/incomplete data between 2.4 - 2.5 µm.

Here I performed a similar analysis on HEDs and V-type asteroids using a reduction in SNR for HED meteorite spectra. In addition, I used six versions of each spectra, covering wavelength ranges from five different terminal wavelengths (~0.75 and 0.8 µm for Band I; 2.4, 2.45, and 2.5 µm for Band II), mimicking incomplete spectral data sets. Like Sanchez et al. (2020), I found that the decreased SNR calibration equations mostly yielded a lower R2 [R Squared], and an increased rms error, compared with their high SNR calibrations. I also created calibration equations using the minimum of Band I as an alternative to the center of Band I, and explored the efficacy of those equations. When applied to V-type asteroids, I found that the derived mineralogy from Band I is systematically higher than that of Band II, but that averaging the results from both bands gives mineralogical results for the V-type asteroids most consistent with those of the HEDs. I discuss the potential reasons for this discrepancy, including SNR, temperature effects, the overall slope of the reflectance spectra, and space weathering.

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