DPS 35th Meeting, 1-6 September 2003
Session 39. KBO and Centaurs II
Poster, Highlighted on, Friday, September 5, 2003, 3:30-6:00pm, Sierra Ballroom I-II

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[39.14] Kuiper objects: simulation of space weathering by ion irradiation

J. Paillet (LESIA, Observatoire de Paris), R. Brunetto (INAF-Osservatorio Astrofisico di Catania), M. A. Barucci (LESIA, Observatoire de Paris), E. Dotto (INAF-Osservatorio Astronomico di Roma), G. Strazulla (INAF-Osservatorio Astrofisico di Catania)

Waiting for direct investigation of Kuiper Belt Objects surfaces, laboratory experiments are essential to understand mechanisms of space weathering. We present results of laboratory experiments on methane irradiation performed at Catania Observatory. Frozen methane at 16 K was irradiated by hundreds of keV Ar++ ions. Reflectance spectra from 0.65 \micron to 2.7 \micron have been taken ``in situ" at different stages of irradiation. The irradiation of frozen methane left a solid residuum. The color of such a residuum changes with increasing irradiation. We confirm that ion bombardment of methane ice leads to a reddening of its reflectance spectra. Moreover the destruction of the original methane is accomplished by the formations of some other species (such as C2H2 and C2H6). We also investigate the effect of the temperature on the residuum and found that this is quite insensible to heating. We also try to estimate the timescale of the experiments, i.e., the time needed in interplanetary space to have the same effects. The obtained results are compared with observational data.

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Bulletin of the American Astronomical Society, 35 #4
© 2003. The American Astronomical Soceity.