Pulse-laser irradiation experiments of Murchison CM2 chondrite for reproducing space weathering on C-type asteroids

Moe Matsuoka, Tomoki Nakamura, Yuki Kimura, Takahiro Hiroi, Ryosuke Nakamura, Satoshi Okumura, Sho Sasaki

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

66 Citations (Scopus)


We performed pulse-laser irradiation experiments of a primitive meteorite to simulate space weathering by micrometeorite bombardments on C-type asteroids. Pellets of powdered Murchison CM2 chondrite were set in vacuum and exposed to pulse laser with a diameter of 0.5mm and delivered energies of 5, 10, and 15mJ. We measured reflectance spectra of unirradiated and irradiated surfaces of the pellets. During analysis the pellet was heated to approximately 100°C and purged in N2 gas in order to reduce absorption of ambient water. The spectra become darker and bluer with increasing laser energies. Their UV reflectance increases and 0.7- and 3-μm band depths decrease from 0 to 15mJ. The spectral bluing observed in our experiments reproduces the bluing occurred during space weathering of C-type asteroids. High-resolution observation by a transmission electron microscope showed that the laser heating causes preferential melting and evaporation in FeS-rich fine-grained portions, which results in dispersion and deposition of numerous FeS-rich amorphous silicate particles 20-1000nm in size on the surface of the pellet. In addition, at the laser-irradiated but unmelted areas, heat-induced amorphization and decomposition of serpentine occur. These mineralogical changes make the reflectance spectra of the Murchison CM chondrite darker and bluer.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)135-143
Number of pages9
Publication statusPublished - 2015 Jul 1


  • Asteroids
  • Meteorites
  • Spectroscopy


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