Probing the use of spectroscopy to determine the meteoritic analogues of meteors [EPA]

Determining the source regions of meteorites is one of the major goals of current research in planetary science. Whereas asteroid observations are currently unable to pinpoint the source regions of most meteorite classes, observations of meteors with camera networks and the subsequent recovery of the meteorite may help make progress on this question. The main caveat of such an approach, however, is that the recovery rate of meteorite falls is low, implying that the meteoritic analogues of at least 80% of the observed falls remain unknown.
Aims: Spectroscopic observations of bolides may have the potential to mitigate this problem by classifying the incoming material.
Methods: To probe the use of spectroscopy to determine the meteoritic analogues of bolides, we collected emission spectra in the visible range (320-880nm) of five meteorite types (H,L,LL,CM,eucrite) acquired in atmospheric entry-like conditions in a plasma wind tunnel at the University of Stuttgart (Germany). A detailed spectral analysis including line identification and mass ratio determinations (Mg/Fe,Na/Fe) was subsequently performed on all spectra.
Results: Spectroscopy, via a simple line identification, allows us to distinguish the main meteorite classes (chondrites, achondrites and irons) but does not have the potential to distinguish for example an H from a CM chondrite.
Conclusions: The source location within the main belt of the different meteorite classes (H, L, LL, CM, etc.) should continue to be investigated via fireball observation networks. Spectroscopy of incoming bolides only marginally helps precisely classify the incoming material (iron meteorites only). To reach a statistically significant sample of recovered meteorites along with accurate orbits (>100) within a reasonable time frame (10-20 years), the optimal solution may be the spatial extension of existing fireball observation networks.

Read this paper on arXiv…

A. Drouard, P. Vernazza, S. Loehle, et. al.
Wed, 14 Feb 18

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