Surface morphological features of boulders on Asteroid 25143 Itokawa

Takaaki Noguchi, Akira Tsuchiyama, Naru Hirata, Hirohide Demura, Ryosuke Nakamura, Hideaki Miyamoto, Hajime Yano, Tomoki Nakamura, Jun Saito, Sho Sasaki, Tatsuaki Hashimoto, Takashi Kubota, Masateru Ishiguro, Michael E. Zolensky

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

21 Citations (Scopus)


On the sub-kilometer S-type asteroid, 25143 Itokawa, some boulders on rough terrains seem to be exposed without any powdery material covering. Based on surface morphological features, there are two major types of boulders: one has rounded edges and corners (rounded boulders), while the other has angular edges and corners (angular boulders). The surface features of the rounded boulders suggest that they have hardness heterogeneity and that some may be breccias. The angular boulders appear to be more resistant to impact disruption than the rounded ones, which may be due to a difference in lithology. The major constituents of Itokawa may be LL chondrite-like brecciated lithology (rounded boulders) along with a remarkable number of boulders suggesting that lithology is atypical among LL chondrites (angular boulders). Some of both types of boulders contain intersecting and stepped planar foliations. Comparison with meteorite ALH76009 suggests that the planar foliations may be marks where rocks were torn apart. As lithified breccias cannot be formed on present-day sub-kilometer-sized Itokawa, it is reasonable that boulders with various lithologies on Itokawa were formed on its large ancestor(s). The rubble-pile structure of Itokawa suggested by its low density (∼1.9 g/cm3) indicates that boulders on Itokawa are reassembled fragments formed by catastrophic disruption of large ancestor(s).

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)319-326
Number of pages8
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - 2010 Mar


  • Asteroid Itokawa
  • Asteroids, Surfaces
  • Regoliths


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