S318p.04 — Insights into Asteroid Thermal Properties from Lunar Eclipse Observations

Date & Time

Aug 4th at 6:00 PM until 7:30 PM




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Author(s): Paul Hayne1, Paul G Lucey3, David A Paige2

Institution(s): 1. California Institute of Technology, 2. University of California, 3. University of Hawaii

Surface temperatures on airless planetary bodies are controlled primarily by insolation and the thermophysical properties of the subsurface layer probed by the diurnal and seasonal thermal waves. Observations of asteroid thermal emission are used to constrain the physical structure of this surface layer. However, the thermal skin depth probed by this technique depends on rotation period, and the derived thermal inertia is a weighted average over a finite depth, which varies from one asteroid to another. If the properties of the surface layer are depth-dependent, then physically identical bodies with different rotation periods will have different apparent thermal inertia values. The Moon provides an opportunity to investigate this phenomenon, using thermal infrared emission curves on both the diurnal and eclipse timescales.
We used multi-spectral thermal infrared observations of the Moon from two instruments: The Maui Space Surveillance System’s Longwave-IR (LWIR) imager, and the Lunar Reconnaissance Orbiter’s Diviner Lunar Radiometer. Diviner’s near-complete characterization of the lunar diurnal temperature cycles are used to constrain the properties of the uppermost √κt ~ 30 cm, where κ is thermal diffusivity and t is the rotation period. Eclipse cooling data from both LWIR and Diviner reveal the properties of the uppermost ~ 1 cm. Here, we focus on results from the October, 2014, and April, 2015 total lunar eclipses.
Using a 1-d thermal model with depth-dependent thermal properties, we fit both the diurnal and eclipse brightness temperature data. Results show that the regolith thermal inertia increases exponentially with depth, from ~10 J m-2 K-1 s-1/2 at the surface to ~90 J m-2 K-1 s-1/2 at > 30 cm depth. This range brackets values derived from thermal light curves of many asteroids. Surface thermal inertia values derived from eclipse data are ~25 – 50% lower than previous models based on diurnal temperatures alone, and are similar to the lower end of the range for asteroids. Based on these results, the depth of thermal wave penetration is critical for interpreting asteroid thermal emission in terms of surface and subsurface properties.