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D. G. Korycansky, E. Asphaug (CODEP, Univ. California Santa Cruz)
We study the effects of small impacts on asteroid shapes. The accumulated effects of a large number of such impacts could conceivably drive bodies to non-axisymmetric shapes with axis ratios like those of known objects. We simulate the process of cratering, ejecta launch, orbit in the potential determined by the shape and rotation of the asteroid, ejecta re-impact, and the resulting change in body shape, as this process occurs repeatedly. Our modeling appears to show that in 3D, small impacts on rotating asteroids produce mostly oblate shapes, irrespective of crater sizes, body angles of repose, or starting values of angular momentum. The more rapidly a body is spinning, the more flattened the outcome, but oblateness still prevails. Thus, this process is probably not dominant in shaping asteroids but may play a significant role in determining their shapes. This research was supported by NASA grant NAG5-11521-001.
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Bulletin of the American Astronomical Society, 34, #3< br> © 2002. The American Astronomical Soceity.